It can be exhausting just listening to Lauren Punk’s weekly schedule.
During basketball season, she either practices or plays in games with her Bishop Eustace basketball team from Monday through Saturday.
On Tuesday nights, she goes from basketball practice to softball practice.
And on Sunday — what she calls her one “day off” — she’s on the diamond again for another five hours of softball practice.
And, oh yeah, she’s also a full-time high school student.
Punk, a La Salle University recruit in softball, rattles off her itinerary with a smile.
She calls basketball her “fun” season and said she wouldn’t give it up for anything.
And the work isn’t too difficult, even if sometimes the sports can seem to blur together.
“In softball, everybody is always chirping, so sometimes my basketball teammates think I’m weird because I’ll be on the bench in basketball yelling things like ‘Atta babe!’ and things like that. But obviously that’s a softball thing,” she said with a grin.
Really, though, as much fun as Punk is having, it’s easy to see how seriously she takes basketball. She has improved every year of her high school career.
This season, she is a cornerstone of one of the top teams in South Jersey, one that took on Clearview in Friday’s South Jersey Invitational Basketball Tournament Final Four at Eastern.
“These are all my friends on the court, and I like to win,” said Punk, a 6-foot senior forward. “I like to push my teammates. I like to go to practice every day, and I get up for practice. That’s actually what’s fun for me.”
For Punk, it does appear that the lines are sometimes blurred between what’s fun and what’s really hard work, and that’s probably one of the keys to her success.
“She thrives on doing individual drills,” said Crusaders coach John Considine. “Every little drill in practice she will work unbelievably hard at, and she has a motor that just doesn’t stop.”
Over the seasons, Punk has grown into a force in the post for the 15-4 Crusaders. She’s averaging a team-leading 13 points per game, almost double what she averaged as a freshman.
But, more than anything, she helps tie together one of South Jersey’s most cohesive units. Punk is a major piece to a heralded senior class. She’s a leader on a deep and talented team.
Being friends off the court helps, Punk said. But the team’s chemistry stems from a shared mindset.
“I think it’s that we never take our foot off the gas, especially in practice,” Punk said. “Every day at practice we have our goal, and it’s usually the next game that we’re looking to. And there’s no let up ever. It doesn’t matter if we’re playing the worst team in our conference or the best. We’re working just as hard.”
And that’s part of the reason why, over the summer, when Punk was largely focused on softball — her primary sport where she shines as a shortstop — she didn't let up on her hectic schedule.
Considine praised Punk for attending every summer basketball workout that she could. It was literally every one that her schedule allowed. It’s why she looks just as polished on the basketball court as the softball diamond.
And it’s why she has such high hopes for the final stretch run of her high school basketball career.