The Record's high school female athlete of the year had what one could only describe as a complete Grade 12 experience.
St. Thomas More Collegiate grad Leah Purdey went above and beyond, even by athlete of the year standards, in her final senior year.
The 17-year-old New Westminster student was among the top achievers in athletics, scholarship and citizenship at the Burnaby independent high school in 2011-12.
"I like to be the best I can be. I can't just not try; I'm competitive," said Purdey, who was also named her school's top Grade 12 female athlete, an honour roll with distinction student and winner of a Larry Johnston citizenship award.
Purdey started her athletic career at STM on the Grade 8 practice volleyball squad.
But by her senior years, she was starting libero on the 2011 varsity team.
Purdey's personality was geared towards succcess even as a youngster, said mom Tracy.
She was not afraid of the older kids, Tracy said.
"She would walk right up to them. She was very competitive and very assertive. She always competed with her older brother on the slide and the monkey bars. None of those kiddy things for her. - She always had it, in everthing she does."
However, that's not quite the way Leah sees things.
"I've gotten so much better in tryouts. I used to be the most so inconsistent player," Purdey said.
Purdey was flabbergasted when she was first chosen to a Metro girls' team in soccer.
When the Douglas College varsity women's coach recently inquired about her interst in playing varsity ball, she was equally incredulous.
"I didn't think I'd make it. But he liked what he saw. - I thought he'd probably say, 'Thanks for coming out.' It was a nice surprise."
This season, Purdey helped guide the Knights volleyball team to fifth place at the AA girls' provincials.
At the same time, Purdey took on managerial duties with the varsity football team on its undefeated run into the AAA playoffs.
"It's a rewarding thing, being part of the tradition of the football team and being a part of that. That's what our spirit revolves around," she said. "I think we all get inspired by the school's past and its reputation in sport."
Purdey's contribution to STM was an inspiration in its own right.
She also played on the varsity basketball team and as the soccer team's stopper, helped the Knights finish fourth at the AA provincials.
Purdey also joined the student council and, with her good friend Stephanie Johnson, was part of the team that produced the school's Friday Night Live video news program.
"I saw other kids do it. I wanted to get a say in how my school was run. I love my school and wanted to make it fun," said Purdey. "I just want to be on a team."
Outside of school, as part of a New Westminster junior girls' lacrosse team, the former B.C. rep player also shared a gold medal at the provincial box championships this summer.
Purdey was accepted at both the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University, but chose to stay closer to home.
"I'm used to STM," she said. "It's little. College is a nice stepping stone to the real world."
And in a way, that is what Purdey has been preparing herself for since her youth.
"I definitely looked up to my sister. But it was definitely a competition, me trying to be as good as her," she said.
Then as a junior on the STM basketball team that went to the provincials it was another senior athlete who made a difference.
"It was inspiring to see the older girls giving everything they had. Julie Thierman getting everyone pumped was definitely a role model."
This fall, Purdey will enter Douglas College in general studies and ply her many athletic talents with the varsity women's soccer team.
"I'm excited about a new team and new girls," Purdey said. "You definitely get out what you put in. If you don't try, you don't succeed, and if I get an opportunity, I'll definitely give it all I have.
"That's what (STM students) are known for."
ON THE SHORTLIST
-Ariana Sider - NWSS - varsity basketball, all-star Lower Mainland AAA basketball playoffs, committed to Simon Fraser University; Female career winner and school career athlete watch winner.
- Manisha Kandola - NWSS - Gold-medal winner in high jump at B.C. high school track and field championships; co-Grade 12 female athlete of the year; basketball.
- Jettie McLaughlin - NWSS - co-Grade 12 female athlete of the year; basketball; runner-up career athlete.
- J'Nelle Poljer-So - NWSS - Sports auxilliary award winner; runner-up career athlete