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Prout's Morgan Holubesko drives to the basket in a game last season.

When she enrolls at Salve Regina University, Prout senior Morgan Holubesko will see about joining a club team. Life will be different away from the three-sport grind, but her trip back to campus a few weeks ago to pick up her varsity letter was a reminder that the time is right.

Aside from a spring season that wasn’t, the last chapter in Holubesko’s busy athletic career as a Crusader was the right way to finish off years of hard work. She was a captain in both basketball and volleyball and would have been the leader of the softball team this spring. In awards announced by the Prout athletic department last week, Holubesko was named the Female Athlete of the Year in the class of 2020.

“I got my letter and my pins and I was like, ‘My Prout P is all full,’” Holubesko said. “That’s a lot of time and dedication and tiredness and bus rides. Just looking back, I was really proud of myself. And that’s kind of where I want to leave off.”

A Middletown resident, Holubesko grew up on softball diamonds and basketball courts. Her father, Keith – who would later become an assistant basketball coach at Prout – had roots as an athlete and coach, and the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

“My dad’s a huge sports person. He played baseball all his life and basketball all his life, so that’s how I got into those sports,” Holubesko said. “I’ve been playing softball and basketball since I could walk. I remember doing 10 dribbles with my left hand in the driveway and 10 dribbles with my right hand when I was around 5 years old. That was one of my first sports memories.”

She played both sports in local leagues, then added travel ball to the mix. At Prout, some of the classmates she knew from softball had decided to play volleyball, so she signed up, too. The three-sport grind quickly became an important – and valuable – part of her high school experience.

“I loved being a three-sport athlete,” she said. “I think it helped with my time management. I have a set schedule when I’m in a sports season. I get a little off schedule when I’m in the two weeks of just going to school and going home. It’s a little odd for me because I’m usually staying after for practice. And I just met so many nice people through the different sports. It’s really fun. I wouldn’t want to do anything else with my time.”

Though she was new to volleyball, she loved it and stuck with it. One of the few programs at the school that plays in Division I, the team had its ups and downs during her career, but she loved it all the same. Senior year, when the Crusaders shook off a winless 2018 campaign to grab six victories was a highlight.

“Volleyball was a super fun season for me,” she said. “I played all around. Our team was awesome. It was such a fond memory.”

A second season as a basketball captain followed, and Holubesko earned all-division honors. While the Crusaders went 3-14, good memories outnumbered bad.

“Basketball was awesome,” Holubesko said. “A great team, everyone was there for each other. It was fun. We got really close as a team.”

Softball season would have brought another challenge, with the Crusaders prepping for their second season in the state’s top league after moving up from Division II. They were looking forward to settling in and showing improvement.

“We were going to do a lot of training, trying to get better, not going through the motions,” Holubesko said. “We only had a couple of batting sessions in the cages and then COVID shut everything down. We had a really powerful group of girls coming up. I think we could have been really successful and I’m sad we couldn’t get out there.”

Old memories made the cancellation a little easier to deal with. In 2018, Prout won the Division II championship. Holubesko was a sophomore starter and scored a key run in the title game.

“It was incredible,” she said. “It was probably my favorite memory in sports ever. I just thought it was cool that we were kind of the underdogs. We had to come out of the losers bracket and we had to win five games in a row. That was awesome.”

Holubesko had been an infielder all her life, but as an underclassmen on a veteran team, she was happy to help out wherever Prout needed her. She ended up loving her spot in the outfield, for softball and non-softball reasons.

“It’s fun. You can, just like, start singing in the outfield and no one’s going to hear you,” Holubesko said with laugh.

The willingness to do what the team needed fit in with Holubesko’s natural inclination toward leadership, even before she was a captain.

“I just always wanted to be a leader to everyone on my teams,” she said. “I always stayed in my place when I was a freshman and sophomore and let others lead me. When I was a captain my junior year for basketball, I really took the leadership role with my other co-captain. We wanted to make it a fun environment that people want to come back to, a team that people want to be a part of. Team is such an important concept to me, and it’s really important for me to be a leader. When people think of me, that’s what I want them to think of – being a leader and a nice, kind person.”

Holubesko is planning to major in elementary and special education at Salve Regina. And the teammates who saw her as a captain this year may be hearing from her again.

“They’re probably going to be successful next season,” Holubesko said of the softball team, “and I can’t wait to go visit them, watch them, cheer them on.”

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