By Justin Whitaker
CLAYTON — Being exceptional at one sport is impressive. But how about three different sports?
For the past four years at Cascade High School, Brandyce Sallee has excelled in softball, basketball and volleyball.
Plenty of high school athletes play multiple sports, but few do so at such a consistently high level as Sallee.
She’s a two-time all-West Central Conference selection in volleyball and three-time all-county and all-WCC selection in both basketball and softball. Sallee will likely become a four-time all-county and all-conference player at the end of this softball season. The Butler University bound senior is the two-time team MVP and will continue to lead the Cadets in the final sports season of her high school career.
The middle child of three sisters, Sallee’s athleticism and path has been paved partially by her parents.
Both graduates of Cascade as well, Sallee’s dad Bryan played baseball and football and her mom Becky played the same three sports as Brandyce.
While some of her athleticism may have been passed down from the Sallee’s, Brandyce’s competitive fire pushes her.
“I hate losing at anything,” she said. “I get mad when I lose at putt-putt to tell you the truth.”
Cascade girls’ basketball and softball coach Don Helmick has coached Sallee since she was in first grade and definitely knows that competitive streak.
“I think if Brandyce was playing Candy Land with a 3-year-old, Brandyce would not want to lose,” Helmick said.
Sallee picked up basketball and softball in the beginning years of elementary school and much like she’s done in her high school career, she played bigger than her size. Brandyce would play youth basketball two grades up with her sister Brittany and also played baseball instead of softball at first.
Helmick first saw the wily first grader competing with third graders and that “never back down” attitude continued into high school as the 5-foot-8 forward averaged 17.4 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.1 steals per game her senior season.
“She wouldn’t take anything from anybody,” said Helmick, Cascade’s winningest girls’ basketball coach in school history. “It didn’t matter if that girl was four inches taller than her, she was still going to shoot it. If she blocks it, guess what? We’re going to do it again. So you knew from the start that she was going to be something special.”
The internal drive and competitive streak from an early age made Brandyce the versatile athlete she is today.
“She spent a ton of time on her own working and in the later years has been blessed being around really good coaches to help develop her and her work ethic has made it something where she’s had a lot success,” Bryan said.
Brandyce did not play volleyball until middle school but quickly picked up the sport and had a successful high school career. The Cadets won a sectional title her junior year and she had a team-high 239 kills and second-best 244 digs her senior season.
But because the sport was sandwiched between travel softball and high school basketball, Brandyce feels her abilities fall a little short compared to the other two.
“Volleyball is definitely my weakest sport because I didn’t put as much time into it as I did the other two,” she said.
Brandyce will trade her Cadet Columbia Blue softball uniform for Butler Blue next season as she will continue playing her favorite sport at the Division I level.
As gifted as she was in volleyball and basketball, Brandyce knew as a 12-year-old that she wanted to play softball in college.
“At a young age, it’s what came most natural to me and now it’s just been the one I’ve been the most passionate about,” she said. “I really have the drive to be the best in softball at all times.”
Even though Sallee was not interested, Helmick believes that she could have played basketball at the collegiate level as well.
“Her ability in basketball was good enough to play somewhere,” Helmick said. “But she is a better softball player. She’s just an overall good athlete.”
Brandyce verbally committed to the Bulldogs during her junior softball season and the catcher contributed 49 singles, 23 doubles, a home run, 23 RBI and a .516 batting average in 2012.
The 3.9 GPA student plans on majoring in criminology at Butler and is extremely happy with her decision.
“I love that it’s a smaller school,” she said. “I didn’t want to go from small Cascade to some huge school. That would have been a little intimidating.”
Even with Brandyce Butler-bound and an overall successful athlete, the feeling of entitlement and pretention does not exist as it does with other athletes in the same situation.
“You get kids sometimes like that and they are just jerks to their teammates and to everyone else,” Helmick said. “But she’s all about the team and making everyone better. I see her with the freshman all the time helping them.”
Cascade is what Brandyce has known all of her life as a born and raised Cadet.
But the next phase of her life is just months away and she’s excited to enjoy the journey.
“I’m ready to move on and get going with my life. But this has been everything I’ve had for four years and it’s really been great,” Brandyce said. “I don’t know if I’m really ready to let go of this school yet but I’m going to hang on these next couple months and make them count.”