Jennifer Allende has taken an unusual path in becoming a dual sport athlete — soccer and basketball — at Barton Community College for the 2011-12 school year.
Allende, a 2011 Great Bend High School graduate, was a defensive specialist on the basketball court, an unselfish 5-foot-5 guard for the Lady Panthers this past winter.
One third of the way through the spring season, her final semester at GBHS, Allende received permission to join the Lady Panthers soccer team.
She became an immediate impact player as a midfielder, scoring four goals on the season, including a pair during a 5-4 double-overtime loss to Dodge City at home on April 28.
“I actually didn’t play high school soccer until almost halfway through my senior season,” Allende said. “I played my freshman year and then I quit because I was going to do swimming.
“I talked to Coach (Gus) Prieto and Mr. (Dave) Meter (GBHS athletic director) and they both said it was fine. I had to do some extra running for it.”
Allende originally contemplated playing volleyball at Southwestern College in Winfield, but she changed her mind when she had the opportunity to play both soccer and basketball at Barton.
“I started thinking about doing sports and I wasn’t ready to be done with sports,” Allende said.
Enter former Barton women’s head soccer coach Bryan Sailer, who left Barton during the offseason to take over the program at NCAA Division-II Emporia State University.
Shawn Uhlenhake took over for Sailer as Barton’s new head soccer coach in June.
“(Uhlenhake) talked to our old coach (Sailer) and he saw some videos on me and went ahead and recruited me,” Allende said.
Former Barton women’s head basketball coach Keith Ferguson, liking her on-ball defensive capabilities, meanwhile, signed Allende to play for the Cougars. Ferguson has been replaced by former New Mexico State head coach Darin Spence, whose hiring becomes official after the Barton Board of Trustees meet on Thursday, Aug. 18.
“I may not get a whole lot of playing time in basketball season my freshman year, but I will be working very hard at practice and helping make the team better,” Allende said.
Allende found herself in the starting lineup for Jason Tatkenhorst’s Lady Panthers during her senior year because of her defense. Besides being a salty on-ball defender, she was always at the front of their full-court presses.
In a Western Athletic Conference basketball game against Liberal during her senior year at the GBHS Fieldhouse, the ball-hawking Allende made three steals during a nine-second stretch in the late going to help lift Great Bend to a narrow 56-50 victory.
Allende also scored a career-high 11 points during a 56-35 WAC runaway over rival Garden City. She hit all three of her field-goal attempts, including a 3-pointer, and all four of her free throws in that game.
But defense has always been her calling card.
“I’ve always been a defensive player,” Allende says softly. “Definitely, I think foot-work, especially for defense, is like so important. I think that playing soccer has definitely helped my defensive skills for basketball.”
On the soccer field, Allende has always been a scorer — long before her high school days.
“When I was younger, I went to nationals for the soccer shootout (ages 10-12),” she said. “I scored two goals and our team got third at nationals.
“I’m really blessed and happy that I get this opportunity to play two sports.”
An honor roll student who carried a 4.0 grade point average at GBHS, Allende says she is undecided on her major, adding that she is looking into the possibility of going into either international business or petroleum engineering.