Brother-sister athletes Connor, a senior, and Payton Murchie, a sophomore, maintain high grade-point averages while participating in several sports at Mitchell High. CHRIS URSO/STAFF
BY ANDY VILLAMARZO Tribune correspondent
Published: July 27, 2013
Updated: July 27, 2013 at 07:07 PM
TRINITY - The combination of strong academics and athletic talent are becoming harder to find in high school sports these days. With the ever-growing competitive landscape of prep sports, it's more taxing for teenagers to be successful on and off the field.
At Mitchell High, though, there's a brother-sister duo that combines the best of both worlds. Connor and Payton Murchie play multiple sports for the Mustangs, excelling not only on the field and hardwood, but also in the classroom.
Connor, a linebacker on the football team, also wrestles, competes in weightlifting and throws the discus for track. The older of the siblings, Connor also is the senior class president, is in the ROTC and has performed more than 200 hours of community service.
This final year will be the toughest, though.
"It's emotional going into this final year," Connor said. "I'm going to be a captain this fall. Just some more added pressure on my back, but I'm excited for it for sure."
Payton is entering only her second year at Mitchell, but made the Mustangs' varsity girls basketball team as a freshman. A tough defender, Payton helped the Mustangs to a postseason appearance and is likely a starter this upcoming season. Payton also plays on the volleyball team and contributed late in the track season at the district tournament.
"Coach (Keith) Paulk moved me up to the varsity before (volleyball) districts, and I remember in one of the games he asked me to go in," Payton said. "I couldn't believe he wanted me to go in during a pressure situation. I went in and got two aces in a row. It was so awesome to know that I could do something like that as a freshman at Mitchell."
The Murchies boast great GPAs: Connor with a 4.04 and Payton with a 4.25. A strong sibling rivalry keeps the two focused.
"They're definitely always trying to top each other," said Adam Murchie, their father. "It has always been a fun sibling rivalry between them two. Always looking to outdo the other. It runs in the family because I think we're all pretty competitive."
Though college plans for Payton are a couple years away, Connor is starting to look at his options after high school. Both parents, Adam and Samantha, graduated from the University of Florida, and as much as Connor would like to follow in their footsteps, he's interested in joining the Naval Academy. The 2013 Anne Frank Humanitarian award recipient has plenty of options moving forward and his family has been a huge reason why.
"I think the biggest thing with sports is that we never pushed them both that they had to get scholarships," Samantha Murchie said. "Our goal for them was to have a positive high school experience and that they contribute to their school. That's been our philosophy since the moment they walked into high school."
Correspondent Andy Villamarzo can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.