3-Sport Teen with ‘Unique Energy’ is April’s Athlete of the Month

The three-sport star was asked to name the strengths she brings to each game. “I suppose I have a unique energy, … a grittiness … that comes out no matter what sport I’m playing,” Vanneck said.

Published May 24, 2024 12:25 AM
2 min read

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It could have happened last fall, when Rye High senior Paige Vanneck helped the Garnets win the New York state girls soccer championship. Or it could have occurred this winter, when she captained Rye’s squash team, one of the top public school girls squads in the country. But it finally did happen this spring, as Rye’s highly ranked girls lacrosse team won their way into the Section 1 playoffs: Head Coach Michelle Mason nominated her three-year varsity starter to be the school’s Athlete of the Month.

“I nominated Paige Vanneck for April’s Lions Club award because she is a wonderful representation of Rye women’s lacrosse,” Mason said. “Paige is a senior defender for our team and has been a critical part of our defense for three seasons. Her development as a student-athlete has absolutely shined her senior season.

“Defenders often don’t get the recognition they deserve,” the coach added, “and Paige deserves this recognition for all she brings to the team.”

The three-sport star was asked to name the strengths she brings to each game. “I suppose I have a unique energy, … a grittiness … that comes out no matter what sport I’m playing,” Vanneck said. “A big thing for lacrosse defenders is scooping up and controlling ground balls, and I’ve improved on that every year I’ve been on the team.

Like the previous month’s Lions Club recipient, Jack Acciavati, Vanneck is a member of the “school within a school” that is The Academy at Rye High. “We have an interdisciplinary approach to our courses,” she noted. “Each morning, we learn math and science together, and then English and History.

“All of the students in The Academy this year made a field trip to Bread of Life, an organization dedicated to feeding people in need all over Westchester County,” she added. “I’m proud to say I volunteered to package food there as part of my community service.”

Another aspect of the academy program that’s left a lasting impression on her: “I’ve been working for months on a presentation I’ll give on the subject of student-athlete mental health,” she said. “As someone who plays sports year-round, I’ve seen many kids who struggle with mental health issues, and I’ve spoken with a counselor at the Rye Youth Council, among others, about the problem.”

Vanneck, who has a 4.0 grade point average, has been accepted by the College of the Holy Cross. “There’s a lot about Holy Cross that reminds me of Rye. I like that,” she said. While undecided about her major in college and a future career, she’ll be interning this spring at Compass Realty under Patti Neave.

One thing about which she’s not undecided: whom to thank for the Lions Club award. “I have to thank my coaches — Michelle Mason and Emma DeRosa — for the progress I’ve made on the lacrosse field. Coach Mason is very clear about what she wants from her players, and I try to live up to that.”

As with the other monthly winners of the award, Vanneck is now eligible to be chosen Rye’s Athlete of the Year at the Lions Club’s annual awards luncheon this spring.

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