Livesay also knows softball, and she knows track and field, too.
In an age when the multi-sport athlete has disappeared in favor of year-round athletes specializing in single sports, the three-sport River Ridge standout has become something of a rarity.
“You can definitely tell who plays all year-round,” Livesay said. “The good players are usually the ones that only play that one sport. I mean, for softball, I would play it in the fall. Other than that, I don’t pick up a bat until the next season.
“Basketball, I play year-round. Track — the only time I do track is during the season. I feel like, if I could work on (track) all year-round, that I would get better at it, but my heart goes to basketball. And that’s what I put most of my effort into.”
Although basketball is Livesay’s strongest sport — and, admittedly, her first love — she said she also enjoys softball and track and field in their own ways. Playing three sports allows her to feel more fulfilled.
“I’ve always thought of (focusing on basketball),” Livesay said. “I should focus on basketball, go get my scholarship and just work on that and try to be the best I can. But then I have these other sports where I have fun doing them. I might as well get the whole high school experience playing all different sports. I feel like, if you are so focused on one thing, you don’t open your eyes to something that you could enjoy just as much.”
Regardless of how Livesay chooses to spend her time, she’s excelled in every sport she has played, and thus, she is the 2011-12 Cherokee Tribune Female Athlete of the Year.
“I was so excited,” Livesay said of the award. “It’s great, and I’m excited for it. It’s definitely a big accomplishment for me. I didn’t even believe it. When it sunk in, I said, ‘This is awesome!’”
After beginning the school year as a key role player for River Ridge’s softball team — helping the Lady Knights to the Region 7AA championship and a spot in the second round of the state playoffs — Livesay turned her attention to the sport that’s become her bread and butter.
During basketball season, the junior was the Lady Knights’ leading scorer, aiding them in reaching the state tournament for the first time. She also broke the 1,000-point barrier in just her second full season playing a varsity schedule.
Along with that accomplishment, she was named to the all-county team, and she was named a Class AA all-State honorable mention. For the season, Livesay averaged 14 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.2 steals and 3.1 assists per game.
Although River Ridge basketball coach Jason Taylor said he would like to see Livesay focus more on her basketball game, he said that he understood why she’s chosen to play three sports. And with the numbers Livesay posted this past season, combined with the team’s performance, Taylor has no complaints about Livesay’s ability to play the game.
“Speaking from personal experience, I was a runner in high school,” Taylor said. “I pretty much ran year-round. Doing something consistently all the time, you just kind of get tired of it. I think taking a break from basketball to play softball is great for her. Then, in spring, she works the AAU basketball in with track. That’s just great time management on her behalf, and understanding the coaches that she has.”
Livesay works with the Peak Performance Basketball program when she’s not in the River Ridge’s gym. The group is comprised of players from throughout the metro-Atlanta area, and it allows Livesay to work on different aspects of her game.
This spring, she played for the “black” travel team — one step down from Peak Performance’s top-tier team — but she also competed for the River Ridge track team. At the Class AA state championships, Livesay finished sixth in discus with a throw of 110 feet, 3 inches.
For the 5-foot-8 Livesay, competing in the discus was intimidating at first, as she often competed against throwers much bigger than her. But once she learned how to throw, she was beating most of the competition that she faced.
“I came out to (my first) meet and said to myself, ‘Oh, good, they probably all have a good 100 pounds on me,’” Livesay said. “But after I threw, they were immediately saying, ‘What? This girl can’t do that.’ But you get used to it after that.”
Much of the reason Livesay was able to outdistance the field was due to her focus on technique.
“It is very important,” she said. “Shot put is a little different because, if you have power, you can just launch it out there. With discus, getting the spin down is footwork. Most big girls don’t have the footwork that I do, so that’s my advantage in it. I can spin faster and get my feet down to create a stable base when, usually, they can’t even spin and have to power throw it.”
After a top-10 finish at state in discus and earning all-state recognition this year, Livesay certainly has little left to prove. She still has plenty to strive for, however, as she hears from critics skeptical of the level of competition in Class AA — especially from her Cherokee County counterparts who play in larger classifications.
“Every accomplishment, it’s, ‘Oh, that’s just in AA. That doesn’t matter.’” Livesay said. “But, honestly, I think AA is pretty good competition, especially when you get into the bigger, private schools like Buford and GAC. Those two could all take a (Class) AAAAA school, I’m pretty sure. Of course, it’s all down on us, but, one day, they will realize that we are just as good. This year, we played them a lot, so, hopefully, we can prove it again.”
Next year, River Ridge will rise into Class AAAA and in the same region with schools like Dalton and Northwest Whitfield. Along with that, the Lady Knights’ schedules will continue to include cross-town opponents. For Livesay, it will be one more chance to show what she knows.