Drive: Park’s Thalhuber excels on the playing field and in classroomOver the past four years opponents have found out Park’s Allie Thalhuber is a force to be reckoned with. However, they probably don’t know she kicks butt in the classroom, too.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, South Washington County Bulletin
Over the past four years opponents have found out Park’s Allie Thalhuber is a force to be reckoned with. However, they probably don’t know she kicks butt in the classroom, too.
Later this spring, Park will have its first graduating class from its International Baccalaureate program. A standout soccer, hockey and lacrosse player, Thalhuber is one of Park’s 16 International Baccalaureate Diploma candidates – and the only diploma candidate that participates in three sports.
Scott Leonard has been Thalhuber’s position coach in soccer along with being her lacrosse coach for the past four years.
“She puts in a ton of work in all three of her sports,” Leonard said. “When it comes down to schoolwork she works hard there as well. The IB program is rigorous and involves community service and a battery of tests. A lot of kids drop out because of the difficulty of the program. But, she endured and it’s very impressive what she’s accomplished.”
According to Park’s information, the IB Diploma Program for students aged 16 to 19 is “a demanding two-year curriculum leading to final examinations and a qualification that is welcomed by leading universities around the world.”
The IB curriculum is modeled by a hexagon with six academic areas – Language A1, Second Language, Individuals and Societies, Experimental Sciences, Mathematics and Computer Science and The Arts - surrounding the three core requirements.
IB maintains high standards by actively training and supporting teachers, and by authorizing and evaluating IB World Schools. The Minnesota Department of Education calls IB a “superior” education.
“It is really tough,” Thalhuber said. “You have five classes you have to take that are college-level. The tests are harder and they expect more from you. These IB tests we’re taking now are especially hard. It’s very rigorous. The level of the classes and the material is very hard and we move very quickly.”
Park Activities Director Phil Kuemmel said he got the feeling there was a concern from some people that kids would feel they couldn’t be athletes and full IB Diploma students at the same time. However, he said Thalhuber has proved that notion incorrect.
“The coursework is very rigorous,” Kuemmel said. “But, Allie is the example I always use for kids that are going through the program and are wondering if they’re going to be able to do both. One of the biggest challenges comes in the springtime, because that’s when things get heavy with tests and projects and papers are due. Our concern was that we’d have a whole bunch of kids that would choose not to be spring athletes because of this. But, if people say it’s not possible, Allie is the example that it obviously is possible. She’s doing it.”
This past fall, Thalhuber had 11 shutouts in 14 games played as the starting goalie for the Park soccer team. She allowed just five goals on 83 shots for a .940 save percentage. This winter, she played on the first line and was third in scoring for the Wolfpack girls hockey team with 30 points on 14 goals and 16 assists. Currently, Thalhuber leads the Park girls lacrosse team in scoring with 33 points on 28 goals and five assists and will graduate as the leading scorer in school history.
Thalhuber said she bleeds green.
“I feel like Park has the most pride out of the schools in our area,” she said. “I love being able to say I play for Park and to throw on the green and play for the Wolfpack. I always wanted to play for Park growing up. I always looked up to the older girls. I’m really happy to be able to be a Wolfpack player and have the younger girls look up to us.”
Though she enjoys sports, Thalhuber is the antithesis of the stereotypical “dumb jock.” In fact, she is currently carrying a 4.17 weighted grade point average.
“I know that I’m not going to be able to go play professional sports,” Thalhuber said. “I love sports, but I know that academics and education is what is most important, because it’s going to get you the farthest in life.”
Including academic letters, Thalhuber has 14 in all. She has played four years of varsity hockey, four years of varsity lacrosse and three years of varsity soccer. She was All-State Academic in soccer and has twice been named All-Conference in lacrosse.
Leonard said what separates Thalhuber from everyone else is simple.
“It’s her drive,” he said. “She wants to be the best in everything she does. She wants to accomplish a lot and she takes her life plan very serious.”
Thalhuber said participating in the IB program and playing three sports has meant she must sacrifice certain things and prioritize what was most important.
“I think IB and playing sports has taught me you have to time-manage really well,” she said. “You have to know going in that you won’t be able to do everything you want to do, socially or whatever. You can’t go halfway in IB. You have to go all in. But, you can’t go halfway in sports either if you want to be a good player and be dedicated.”
Next fall, Thalhuber will attend the University of Minnesota, where she plans on studying biological sciences in hopes of becoming a surgeon.
Thalhuber said thinking about starting a new chapter is “bittersweet.”
“When you play for teams for so long you build a lot of relationships with people. Knowing you won’t be able to come to a practice and play with them every day is odd,” Thalhuber said. “I’ve always been so busy over the years, it’ll be nice to have some free time. I’m looking forward to the independence and being able to dictate what I have to do.”