By CHRIS LARICK
More and more these days, high school athletes are encouraged to specialize in one sport.
Count 2004 Edgewood graduate Pam Dreslinski among those who would disagree with that idea. Dreslinski, who will be inducted into the Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation Hall of Fame on Apr. 7,figures she gained a lot by being a three-sport athlete at Edgewood High School.
"Softball gave me the opportunity to travel all over the country, eat different foods, meet different people and I am forever appreciative of that,” Dreslinski said. "My game was representative of me being a three-sport athlete in high school. Volleyball gave me agility and bounce, basketball gave me swagger and confidence.”
Like most athletes who became high school stars, Dreslinski got an early start in sports.
"Any sport that had a ball involved, I wanted to play,” she said. "I started playing by dribbling in between chalk lines my sister and I drew in my driveway when I was around six years old. Then my dad installed a basketball hoop and I played with my family. I started organized basketball at the YMCA around third or fourth grade. My coach was John Bowler, the current boys basketball coach at Edgewood. From there, I played on a fifth- and sixth-grade travel team that my mom coached. Both were really great coaches, taught the fundamentals but also kept the game fun.”
When she reached high school, Dreslinski played volleyball, basketball and softball, starting on the varsity team as a freshman in all three sports.
“I loved playing volleyball, but I could never really figure out how to spike a ball,” she said. "I just launched it to the back wall. In softball I received honors of first-team All-Ohio, Ashtabula County Player of the year and NEC player of the year.”
In basketball, Dreslinski was named Co-Player of the Year in Ashtabula County (with Jefferson’s Mary Herendeen) and was the ACBF Player of the Year.
Not blessed with great height, Dreslinski played point or shooting guard, depending on the year. Though listed at 5-foot-8 on the basketball roster, she was only 5-foot-5 in high school. She has since gained an inch and can now boast of being 5-foot-6.
During her years at Edgewood, the Warriors were pretty much a .500 team in a league (the Northeastern Conference) dominated by Jefferson and Geneva.
"The two games that come to mind when I think of my career were both during my senior year,” Dreslinski said.
"I will always remember the night I scored 1,000 points- the first female at Edgewood to ever do so. It was a huge accomplishment for me to be the first. It was a home game, and the entire gym was packed with friends, family and a lot of the student body who rooted me and my team on.
"They stopped the game and my parents came down onto the court, which was a special moment.
" Another memory was when we played Jefferson at home. They notoriously had a great group of athlete, and beat us every year. Except for the time they didn’t! From what I remember, and what my mom likes to tell strangers, Trish, my sister who was a freshman and playing varsity with me launched the ball from out of bounds down the court to me in full stride. I stepped back to the three-point line in the corner and drained the game winner! "
Dreslinski wound up with 1,224 points in her career, 13th among all county girls in a recent tabulation.
Despite her talent in basketball, Dreslinski was an even better softball player, and was heavily recruited in that sport.
"I verbally committed to Hofstra University in March of my junior year to play softball,” she said. "I would have loved to play basketball in college, but was offered a full scholarship to play softball at the Division 1 level.”
She enjoyed a successful softball career at Hofstra, graduating with a B.A. in psychology and adding a master’s in education.
"After Hofstra, softball remained an important part of my life. I was a graduate assistant/assistant coach at the Division 3 level. I coached travel softball for eight years, many of the teams from Ashtabula County. "I gave private hitting lessons for about six years. I found out that one of my passions is teaching and guiding the future athletes into being to become not only great players but well-rounded people.
Dreslinski is currently a physical therapy assistant at an outpatient clinic.
She recently got married and lives in Buffalo, NY with her wife, Jo, and their cat Margot.
In her free time, she enjoys biking on the trails, camping in the mountains and working on home improvement projects. Dreslinski has managed to keep busy athletically, playing slow-pitch softball last year. “I think I pulled my back swinging so toohard to at a ball I missed,” she said, “ But I'll still play again this year.”
Dreslinski remains thankful to the people in her life who have helped her.
"First and foremost, I would like to thank my parents (Dave and Linda) and family: for listening to space jam on repeat, for playing P.I.G. in the driveway with me in all seasons, for being there and cheering me on at every game. Thank you to my coaches throughout the years for shaping me into the athlete I wanted to be: Coach Fowler, Coach Fischer, Coach Monas, and Coach Melaragno. Thank you to all of my teammates throughout the years."