When JuliAnne Chisholm waved goodbye to the home basketball crowd this past March on senior night, her father, Kem, had a feeling it may not be the last time Wildcat fans hear from his do-it-all daughter.
He was right.
Barely a month had passed since Chisholm wrapped up her two-year basketball career with the Wildcats in the NCAA tournament and already she was itching to do something again.
This time Chisholm tried to revive her track career — marking her third sport at K-State in five years after spending her first four years here playing volleyball.
“My dad predicted on my senior basketball night that this would happen,” Chisholm said during a recent interview. “He said, ‘you’ll be in a track uniform before you know it.’ I was like, ‘dad, it would be cool, but no.’”
A little more than a month ago the soon-to-be medical student called K-State track and field coach Cliff Rovelto and simply asked if she could try her hand at high jump — albeit with the season winding down.
“I was fully prepared for him to say no,” she said. “I said, ‘I know this is crazy and I’m totally OK if you say no, but I had to ask.’”
Rovelto agreed and Chisholm went back to work at a sport she gave up more than five years ago as a senior at Hillsboro High School where she was a three-time state high jumping champion.
“I hadn’t jumped at all in five years,” said Chisholm, who registered 782 kills in four seasons on the volleyball team and scored 87 points in two seasons for the women’s basketball team. “It’s kind of like riding a bike.
“Your body just kind of remembers what it’s supposed to do. And there are so many other things we could have worked on, but just didn’t have the time to do it.”
Out of high school, Chisholm had offers to continue her track career, but opted to focus on volleyball, even though she was also recruited by Deb Patterson to play basketball at K-State.
“I did consider track, briefly,” she said. “But I really liked team sports and (K-State volleyball coach) Suzie (Fritz) is amazing — she roped me in.”
And though Chisholm’s track dream officially came to an end on Sunday at the Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Manhattan — ending her athletic run at K-State — the Academic All-American said she is leaving K-State with no regrets.
“It’s been a wonderful experience overall, and I wouldn’t change any of it,” said Chisholm, who finished sixth in her track debut on May 6 in Lincoln, Neb. “I’m glad that I asked Coach P to participate in basketball and I’m glad I asked the coaches to participate in track.”
There have been other two-sport stars at K-State in the past, but three is especially rare because of the skill set required to excel in volleyball, basketball and track — all while maintaining the highest of academic standards at the same time. Chisholm, after all, finished her college career earning nothing but A’s in all but two classes where she earned B’s.
“I’ve always been OK at everything, but not fabulous at any one thing and I think that’s what’s gotten me through each sport,” said Chisholm, who was awarded a full scholarship at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. “I can adapt and gather the skill set that I need to survive and that’s what I’ve done.
“I’ve never been the biggest, fastest or the strongest, but you put me in a competitive situation and I’ll compete my butt off. I just can’t let go of the competitive opportunities.”
Chisholm, who is getting married to Manhattan firefighter Drew Rathbun on June 9, said the greatest thing she’ll take from her time in three sports at K-State are the life-long friendships she’s created in five years here.
“More than anything, I made three friend groups,” she said. “I have a volleyball family and a basketball family and now I have the track girls.
“I would have never been really good friends with any of the track girls had I not gone after this in the last month, and now I love them.”
As if medical school won’t keep Chisholm busy enough, she’s already begun to think about her next athletic challenge.
After all, it’s just a matter of time before the competitive itch bites her again — perhaps in only another six weeks or so.
“I asked Drew if we could do triathlons, and I got an ‘um, you can do triathlons,’” she said. “So maybe, I’ll find something along those lines.
“I’m interested to see what will happen to my time. Am I going to be super bored? Am I going to be overly studious or will I get bored being overly studious? It’ll be nice to be able to focus on my schoolwork, but I’m going to need something, some sort of outlet.”