A competitive streak pays off handsomely in the field of athletics, where participants are driven to improve on a daily basis.
Sydney Wade, who excelled in basketball, volleyball and softball throughout her high school career, used the same approach to the classroom.
That zeal to compete started, naturally enough, with her twin brother, Garrett.
“We were really competitive in elementary school,” Wade recalled.
Then, as the Wade twins grew older, and Sydney met new classmates whom she admired, that helped up her game.
“I just had to keep going to get to their level,” she recalled.
And while Wade soon became one of the most decorated individual players in Iola High basketball history, it’s her academic prowess that will be honored Saturday.
Wade will join classmates Ben Cooper, Alexis Heslop and Riley Murry as the four members of Iola High’s class of 2017 who made it through high school with all A’s on their resume.
They’ll be honored at high school commencement ceremonies Saturday. (Wade was voted by her classmates to provide the senior address to the graduates.)
WADE plans to attend Pittsburg State University in the fall, where she’s still weighing her major between a career in physical therapy or as a pediatrician.
Surprisingly, she’ll forego college athletics.
“I knew I was good enough (to play college basketball), but I’m not good enough to play at the schools I wanted to attend,” she said.
And because she already has 1½ years of community college credit under her belt — courtesy of dual credit classes offered at Allen Community College — Wade figured competing at the junior college level would be too short to fully appreciate.
“It was a very hard decision, because I had always thought I’d go to college to play basketball,” Wade said.
IN THE end, Wade’s scholastic memories have come rushing together in her final days at IHS.
“I’m going to miss seeing my friends every day,” she said. “You see them in the summer, but it’s not the same.”
She’ll miss classes with Dianne Kauth, who helped Wade foster her love of math.
“I guess I won’t miss lunch,” she said sheepishly.
One memory stands out.
Wade’s eighth-grade year was coming to a close when she earned a B in science, her first and only non-A as a middle-schooler.
At the year-end awards assembly, Wade saw several classmates recognized for maintaining a 4.0 grade point average.
She wasn’t one of them.
“I said to myself, ‘That will not happen again,’” she recalled.
There weren’t really any close calls, either.
“There were some tough classes here and there, but I made sure I kept monitoring my grades, doing extra credit so I knew it wouldn’t come down to the wire,” she said.
So where did she get that drive?
Wade credits her parents, Mark and Jenise Wade — “They’re both really competitive, too,” — and her grandfather, longtime IHS teacher and administrator Don Bain.
“I’d go over to his place and work, and he’d help explain things to me if I needed help.”
And, without a hint of conceit, Wade credits herself. “I’ve just always been driven.”
Time management, particularly in her younger years, was key.
“I’d come home after basketball, and stay up late to get my homework done,” she said. “When you’re a freshman and sophomore, the teachers would make sure you had homework every day.”
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