Ridgefield's Curnal has year for the ages

Although she has one year of high school remaining, Caroline Curnal has already established herself.

As one of the best all-around female athletes in Ridgefield High School history.

Curnal’s junior year, which ended with the Ridgefield girls lacrosse team’s loss to Staples in the state tournament last month, was nothing short of sensational.

Consider: In the fall — as a punishing outside hitter — she was a mainstay on the RHS girls volleyball team that reached the state finals for the first time in program history, earning All-FCIAC third-team honors; in the winter, she used her tenacity and athleticism to star as a power forward on the RHS girls basketball team, earning All-FCIAC and All-State first-team honors; and this spring she was a force on face-offs and a major point producer for the RHS girls lacrosse team (which made its first appearance in the conference championship game), making the All-FCIAC and All-State first teams.

Curnal’s accomplishments are more impressive when you understand when they are taking place — in an era of specialization that has largely removed the three-sport athlete from high school competition.

“I've never had trouble with my schedule. I manage my time wisely regarding school and practice,” said Curnal, who has verbally committed to play Division I college lacrosse at Lafayette. “But many people said to me that I wouldn't be able to play three [sports] in high school coming in as a freshman, which pushed me prove them wrong.”

That determined attitude is apparent whenever you watch Curnal in action.

“She’s a fierce, athletic competitor, and an all-around great team player,” said Ridgefield girls volleyball coach Lidania Cibere. “I think she loves being a triple threat in sports.”

“Caroline makes an impact with her tenacity and grittiness,” added RHS girls basketball coach Tom DiMarzo. “She works extremely hard in practice and buys into what the coaches are selling. She has made herself an elite offensive rebounder … she usually has to play girls bigger than her, but she plays them tough and doesn't get in foul trouble often.”

With a self-described natural love of sports, Curnal played youth lacrosse, soccer and basketball. When she arrived as a freshman at Ridgefield High in 2014, she decided to give volleyball a shot, leading the junior varsity squad to an undefeated season.

She has stuck with both that sport and basketball, even after making the decision to play college lacrosse for Lafayette before the start of her junior year. It’s a point at which some multi-sport athletes — concerned about injury — opt to focus on the sport they will play in college. Not Curnal.

“I would have a hard time deciding which one because I could potentially get injured in any sport,” she said. “I’ve never thought about quitting a sport in general, let alone because of a fear of getting injured. Injuries happen — it's part of being an athlete.”

DiMarzo, the basketball coach, hopes Curnal will continue as a three-sport athlete during her senior year.

“If she made that choice (not to play basketball), I would be disappointed but support her in any way I could,” he said. “It would be a shame if she didn't come back and try to improve from her outstanding junior year. We are just happy to get the chance to coach such a dedicated and hardworking student athlete.”