Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Mead three-sport star Teryn Gardner tearing up soccer pitch before defending GSL basketball MVP

Mead’s Teryn Gardner has mastered multiple sports during all three Greater Spokane League seasons

Gardner has never felt the pressure of playing multiple sports, especially since Mead has consistently won with her on the roster.

She’s heard coaches strongly suggest a one-sport mentality toward some of her basketball and soccer teammates – specifically within the club scene – but she hasn’t received that ultimatum .

Gardner has a passion to be great in multiple sports, but it’s fostered through her support system. That system begins with her, flows through her parents, and ends with the coaches who have backed her decisions since she began at Mead.

Casey Curtis, Mead girls soccer coach, and Quantae Anderson, Mead girls basketball coach, have built a friendship and an understanding of the importance of well-rounded student-athletes.

“I’m really fortunate, being at Mead, I have a great relationship with (Anderson), which is where a good chunk of athletes come from,” Curtis said. “Not only are we friends, but we have similar beliefs. It is great for the kids because they know their coaches are on the same page.”

Gardner supported that belief and said her coaches have told her to make sports decisions by herself, without any outside influences.

“It’s definitely nice having two coaches that just simply care about your success and are there for you and what’s best for you,” Gardner said.

Gardner said she wanted to play multiple sports to match her parents and her siblings, who all played sports in high school and college.

“That taught me how to have that drive,” she said.

Playing multiple sports has enhanced her athletic abilities from all angles. It taught her how to read a rebound off the rim or see a forward making a run in behind the defense before they can react. Both require a special feeling for the game that is tough to coach.

“She has instinct. That instinct of being able to see, ‘OK, here’s where it’s going to go and here’s how I get there and make that difference,’ ” Curtis said. “Honestly, her athleticism is off the charts, but she’s willing to do the little things and not just (receive) the accolade. It’s a super fine line. And this is one of the things that makes Taryn special.”

Gardner said basketball and soccer complement one another, so putting 100% effort into both made the most sense. That has helped her earn all-league and all-state honors in multiple sports.

Gardner – GSL MVP and all-state in basketball, first-team All-GSL in soccer and all-league in track and field – has succeeded more over her four high school seasons than most athletes.

Gardner committed in July to play basketball next season for Boise Sate, a Division I landing spot for multisport athletes.

Curtis said specialization in a singular sport has hurt athletes over the last generation and coaches are the first to blame.

Mead guard Teryn Gardner drives to the hoop against Gonzaga Prep on Feb. 7.  (Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review)
Mead guard Teryn Gardner drives to the hoop against Gonzaga Prep on Feb. 7. (Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review) Buy this photo

“There are a lot of coaches out there that don’t care about kids,” he said. “They say they care about kids. They claim they care about your kid, but their actions tell you something different.”

Curtis has spent the better part of the decade as a head coach putting athletes ahead of winning, believing that leads to consistent winning.

“I don’t use the term ‘win’ very often in soccer because I don’t want that to be the only measuring stick,” Curtis said. “I mean, we want to win games. I’m here to win games. But I’m confident that if we do what it takes to be successful, then we’re going to win. And that’s what sets Taryn apart, is that she’s doing what it takes to be successful.”

Curtis said Gardner is a focal point of his team as she patrols the midfield. She receives the ball from midfield and immediately turns to find teammates or green grass in front of her .

Her position isn’t normally expected to lead the team in scoring, but to set up forwards and wingers who run off her movements.

Gardner, however, has led the Panthers in goals for three consecutive years.

“That’s pretty impressive from the midfield,” Curtis said. “If you look across the league, the kid scoring all the goals are playing forward. But that’s what makes her different. It’s her work rate. She’s got really good vision.”

Gardner scores goals to win games, not for personal awards, Curtis said.

“That’s how she measures herself, and you can see it in training. You can see it in our discussions,” he said.

That was reflected earlier in the week in training when Curtis implored a freshman to take a shot on goal rather than pass it off.

“And Taryn is over there nodding, ‘Yeah, put the ball in the net. I don’t care how we score, we just need goals, because that’s how we win,’ ” Curtis said


Curtis coached another multisport athlete at Lewis and Clark who went on to play basketball at Oregon and Saint Mary’s. Devyn Galland was also a basketball-centric player who played soccer for Curtis.

“Being involved in other sports also gives you a chance to kind of relax a little bit, the pressure is different,” Curtis said. “Taryn is a critical part of our team and drives our offense as much as anybody, but it’s not the same as basketball. On the basketball court, all eyes are on Taryn.”

Curtis said in soccer, it’s more difficult for players to focus on Gardner because of the size of the playing surface and the number of players on the field.

Gardner doesn’t quite see it the same way.

Now that Gardner, along with her senior teammates, have one final shot, she said she’s imposed the weight of success on herself .

“It’s not anyone else putting the pressure on you besides yourself,” she said. “I’m definitely feeling more of the pressure, because I want to be able to live up to all that I did last year and all that our team did last year. We want to be able to live up to that and surpass it and be better.”

This soccer season has been an up-and-down ride for the Panthers, who are in fifth place in the GSL after a 1-0 loss to Gonzaga Prep on Wednesday.

“We started off with some really tough league matches and kind of got behind the eight-ball, so we can only control what’s in front of us,” Curtis said. “In terms of this group, it’s a great group of kids. They work hard, they care about each other, and they do the work that we’re asking.”

Curtis said the Panthers have lacked a direct leadership role. Gardner leads by example, but Curtis wants more accountability from the team.

“That is something we have been preaching to the girls: It can’t just come from us coaches,” he said.

Curtis was on hand at Union Stadium to watch Washington State’s women’s soccer team practice. He said he saw a level of accountability that he wants to instill in the Mead program.

“It was very evident in how they train how important it is to push each other,” Curtis said. “And I’ve asked the girls to do that. Taryn is probably a little more vocal than others about it, but just in general, this generation, if you will, it’s not really in their nature. It’s finding how do we push each other, but still love each other.”