From small forward to goalie: Sarah Pappas becomes a centerpiece for Summit sports teams |

From small forward to goalie: Sarah Pappas becomes a centerpiece for Summit sports teams

Summit High School’s varsity girls players Sarah Pappas, center, walks off the court with teammates Autumn Rivera, left, and Paola Arredondo, right, after their victory over Basalt on Feb. 10 at Summit High School in Breckenridge.
Jason Connolly/For the Summit Daily News

Summit High School senior Sarah Pappas never imagined a day when she would be standing between the goal posts for the Summit High School girls soccer team as the varsity goalie.

Pappas was content continuing to be a contributing small forward for the Summit Tigers girls basketball team, but one day during Pappas’ junior year, head girls soccer coach Jotwan Daniels walked into her history class and changed her mind.

Pappas said Daniels came into the classroom, which had very few girls in it, and openly asked if anyone was willing to be the soccer goalie for the team that upcoming spring.

“No one said anything, and I put my head down,“ Pappas said. ”I have never thought about playing soccer or anything like that.“

Pappas recounts that Daniels then turned to her and directly asked her to be the team’s new goalie in the spring. Shocked and not sure what to think at first, Pappas eventually agreed in large part due to the belief Daniels had in her ability to be a soccer goalie.

“Apparently he had been watching me the last two years since I was a freshman playing basketball,” Pappas said. “He believed in me, and that helped me believe in myself. If it wasn’t for his early coaching style, I probably wouldn’t have believed in myself to become a goalie in two months and then become their varsity goalie.”

Summit's Sarah Pappas saves a ball during the Tigers home win over the Salida Spartans on April 1. The Tigers beat the Spartans, 2-0, helping Pappas secure her second shutout win of the season.
Elaine Collins/Courtesy photo

Training to become a goalie was challenging for Pappas as she had to learn how to move and use her body in a different way than she did in basketball.

“It was very challenging. I am not good at not doing well at something,” Pappas said. “Switching habits was difficult for me, and the very first practice I refused to dive because of how awkward it was.”

With time, Pappas grew as a goalie, and she was a brick wall for the team during her senior year, producing five shutouts in the team’s 14 game schedule.

Sarah Pappas drives to the basket against Mitchell High School during the 2022 varsity girl’s Colorado High School Activities Association 4A state playoff tournament basketball game on Feb. 22, at Summit High School in Breckenridge. The Tigers defeated Mitchell 53 -40 to advance to the next round of the playoffs.
Jason Connolly/For Summit Daily News

Pappas, who was born and raised in Summit County, was also a main focal point for the Summit girls basketball team.

Head coach Kayle Walker Burns lovingly called Pappas the “team mom” since she was able to bring everyone together and build team chemistry.

The teambuilding worked. This past winter season, Pappas helped lead the Summit girls basketball team to the second round of the playoffs and the best record the program has had in the last 15 years with a record of 16-9.

“It was awesome what that team could do,” Pappas said. “That team is actually the team I won my eighth grade championship with. They have been by my side since eighth grade, and it was kind of like that dream team was back together.”

With a firm foundation and playoff experience beneath them, Pappas is confident that the girls basketball team will continue to have success over the next few seasons.

As Pappas prepares to graduate from Summit High School next week, she couldn’t be more grateful for what Summit High School and Summit County has been able to provide her.

“There’s moments in life where life will be kicking my butt, and I just won’t want to get out of bed,” Pappas said. “If it wasn’t for sports, friends, family and coaches, I wouldn’t get out of bed. I wouldn’t have the life that I do.”

Upon graduation, Pappas will attend Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction where she plans to study exercise science. Pappas plans on focusing on her academics in hopes of opening her own physical therapy practice in the future.

Sarah Pappas stands with her mother during the Summit's senior night recognition ceremony on Thursday, May 5. Pappas will graduate later this spring and will attend Colorado Mesa University this fall.
Cody Jones/Summit Daily News

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