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La Jolla Athlete of the Week: Erika Pfister is a ‘bright light’ on three teams

Bishop's School sophomore Erika Pfister is an athlete in three sports: lacrosse, field hockey and water polo.
(Courtesy of Erika Pfister)

Bishop’s School sophomore Erika Pfister jokes that she was born to play sports.

And she might be right. She started playing basketball when she was 4, moved on to soccer a few years later, started lacrosse in fifth grade, and then field hockey and water polo in middle school.

For the Knights, she currently plays the latter three on high school varsity and is considered a top player across the board. With lacrosse as her primary sport, she averaged six goals a game during the last few games of the season and helped the team to an 8-3 record.

“I just love it,” Erika, 16, said of lacrosse. “It’s fast-paced, you are always running and always doing something. As a mid[fielder], I get to defend and attack and I love it. It’s such a team sport and I’m such a team player that it’s a good fit for me.”

Her coach agrees.

“Erika is the most coachable player in field hockey and lacrosse with her upbeat personality and her willingness to consistently put in the extra effort to improve her game,” said Megan Carr, who coaches both sports. “In the past couple of weeks, she would stay after practice to work on her shots. … What stands out about Erika is that she is the first person to always give a shout-out to her teammates about their contributions to our game or our practice. Her bright light energizes our team.”

Erika believes the most important thing about lacrosse is team chemistry. “There is no space for a solo lacrosse star. Even if they are the best player in the country, they won’t thrive if there is no chemistry. It’s way more effective than having one or two star players.”

She said she also enjoys field hockey’s pace and the team she plays on.

She likes water polo because it’s a “different kind of exercise” that she hopes to do more of next year, she said.

Water polo coach Doug Peabody hopes she will, too. “She’s conscientious about what she’s doing. We love her, we wish this was a primary sport for her,” he said. “She’s athletic, super bright and hard-working. She would be great at anything she played. She’s a phenomenal athlete.”

While Erika acknowledges it can be “challenging” to juggle three sports, schoolwork and community service efforts, she has the dedication to create a regimen that works for her.

“I have practice after school, so some days I don’t get home until 5 p.m., then I have dinner, so that doesn’t leave a lot of time for homework,” she said. “But it improves my mental state to work out, so sometimes I’m still really productive because I got some exercise.”

She also works homework into her free period at school. “A lot of people go hang out with friends during free period, but I sometimes work straight through mine to get work done and don’t have too much work at night,” she said. “It’s difficult, but I have to grind it out.”

Erika said she’s motivated to keep her grades up by — what else? — sports. “My personality is focused on athletics, but my school is academically focused, and I have to keep good grades if I want to keep doing sports.”

In the little free time she has, Erika is a member of the mother-daughter philanthropy group National Charity League. During a six-year commitment, which begins in seventh grade and runs through senior year of high school, the girls and young women, known as Ticktockers, perform volunteer service for local charities.

Erika’s choice charities are Father Joe’s Villages, for which she and her mother make and donate food items and blankets, and the San Diego Food Bank, where she would sort food before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These are great charities because they provide food to those in need,” she said. “To know I’m helping them get that means a lot to me. It’s a way for me to give back.”

La Jolla Athlete of the Week features athletes from all sports in high school (La Jolla High, The Bishop’s School, La Jolla Country Day School) and other local youth sports. We’re looking not only for the stars of competition but also for student-athletes who set an example for teamwork, academic achievement and/or community involvement. Please email your nominations, and a way to reach your nominees, to Editor Rob Vardon at robert.vardon@lajollalight.com.