Claire Neuberger: The second 12-sport varsity athlete in LHS history


Zachary Ford

Senior Claire Neuberger is the second student in LHS history to become a 12-sport varsity athlete. Throughout her four years she was a gymnast, a diver, and a pole vaulter on the track and field team.


Claire Neuberger — who participated in swimming and diving, gymnastics, and track and field — is the second-ever LHS athlete in history to be a 12-sport varsity athlete.

The first, Kelly Karl, who graduated in 1994, was a varsity athlete on cross country, basketball and soccer for four years.

Growing up, Neuberger did gymnastics at Gym Spot in Mundelein and was a cheerleader at Highland Middle School. Over the course of Neuberger’s high school career, she was a diver in the fall, a gymnast in the winter and a pole vaulter in the spring.

Neuberger knew she wanted to try diving and pole vaulting in high school and started practicing for both the summer going into freshman year. That summer, she dove in her free time with a Cougar diving group in Vernon Hills and contacted pole vault coach Bill Etnyre to practice pole vaulting with the rest of the team. Etnyre explained how he “was very excited to have someone who wanted to get a head start on their season and learn the basics.”

Olivia Bertaud, a freshman, has competed alongside Neuberger in diving, gymnastics and pole vault this season. She explained that Neuberger’s positive attitude and goofiness make a more enjoyable environment.

Bertaud described a “slushy challenge” they made up during the diving season. Since the LHS pool doesn’t have enough space, LHS’ diving team practices at Vernon Hills High School. “Sometimes we try and see if we can get all of our dives done really quick and get back to Taco Bell on the other side of town in time for the $1 slushies at five o’clock,” Bertaud explained.

Aside from athletics, Neuberger is also involved in band, Caring for Cambodia, and she previously helped out at Special Olympics on Wednesdays. Neuberger also has two jobs: a coach at Cougar Dive (where she practiced the summer going into freshman year) and as a party coordinator at Gym Spot.

Balancing academics can be difficult at times. “It’s just hard when you’re in sports all the time. It becomes a really big part of your life, so it really affects your emotions and you get into ruts sometimes where you don’t want to do homework because you’re so frustrated, but otherwise I think it’s easier with sports to do homework,” said Neuberger.

She claimed that what worked best for her was to get into a routine: “I get home from practice or meets or whatever and I do homework until I get tired and then I go to sleep. It works every day because if I finish stuff, then I get ahead.”

Working ahead also allows Neuberger to have more time to fit social outings into her busy life, she explained.

Other challenges that arise from being a 12-sport athlete include the transition from sport to sport. “I think the diving-to-gymnastics transition is hard because in diving you want to land on your head and gymnastics, you want to land on your feet, so it’s like the same thing but it’s also like completely opposite,” Neuberger said.

Gymnastics coach Mrs. Tiffany Owens believes Neuberger’s multiple sports have benefitted her: “If anything, I think that her being a gymnast has lent itself to helping her in those other sports…she’s just a really gifted athlete in general, her strength and spacial awareness from gymnastics has really helped her in pole vaulting and diving.”

As the pole vaulting season winds down, Neuberger has been performing her last jumps and jumped a personal record of 11’3” at a home meet on Monday, April 30 against Warren Township and Zion-Benton.

Aside from pole vaulting this spring, in her free time Neuberger goes to Glenbrook High School to practice diving because she will be diving in the fall at University of Wisconsin – Green Bay. Neuberger explained how diving has led her to have many things in common with her future college teammates: “It’s fun to talk to them because when you’re in high school diving, not everyone cares that much, but when you’re in college diving, everyone just really really loves diving.”

Looking into the future, Neuberger is excited for the three-meter dives (high school only has one-meter boards) that college offers, but will miss “being with teams…by the end of the season you just have a lot of respect for everyone, and you’re really sad to leave.”