2011-2012 Female Athlete of the Year: Cherlinda Polynice

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SARASOTA - There were a lot of "nevers" brought up when coaches were discussing our ABC 7 Female Athlete of the Year, but the "nevers" were in a good way: Never had an athlete so dedicated, never had one play four sports and excel at school, and never had so much fun coaching an athlete before.

Booker High School’s Cherlinda Polynice is our Female High School Athlete of the Year.

It is somewhat odd that Polynice plays four sports, and yet the best way to describe her is associated with one of the few sports she doesn't play. “They talk in baseball about a 5-tooled athlete; she has all the tools. She has the speed, the endurance, the strength, the flexibility, the mental toughness, and the willingness to be coached,” says Stephen Crane, the head girls track coach at Booker.

Her four sports are volleyball, basketball, weightlifting and track. She finished 11th in the 400m run in track while finishing 7th in the state in her weight class in weightlifting.

She played basketball and weightlifted during the same season. “Never coached an athlete that played basketball and lifted at the same time. This is a first. So at that time I realized had she had a little more time, she probably would have competed for the state championship at the state meet,” says Bob Smithers, Booker assistant weight coach.

If idle time is the devil's workshop, then keeping busy is Cherlinda's paradise, because in addition to the four sports, she also carries a 3.9 GPA and she also finds the time to mentor other students. “I have a problem standing still. It's really hectic, it’s really chaotic, it’s really tiring…very tiring. But at end the day, I feel great, I feel accomplished. I feel really good about myself,” says Polynice.

She is dedicated, tireless and -- everyone agrees-- a joy to coach. “It's a blast; so much fun. She brings so much energy every day. She is going to make all of our teammates smile and just lead with her work ethic,” says assistant girls basketball coach Brooke Corbett.

Billy Phillips is the head boys track coach, but he works out with Cherlinda, so he sees what it is that makes her successful. “Her work ethic is awesome, and her GPA is outstanding. If you put all of that together, it equals success.”

She wants to do so much with her life that she can't be pinned down to one thing right now, but she has already accomplished at least one goal she came to high school with. “Ever since I was a freshman I always said I wanted to win Athlete of the Year, but I actually didn't think I would. I just kind of said it, but here it is.”

Congratulations to Cherlinda Polynice of Booker High School. She is our ABC 7 Female Athlete of the Year for the 2011-2012 school year.