How West Orange High’s Zoe Calvez became a multi-sport star

Not only has Zoe Calvez continued the superb lineage of Warriors softball centerfielders, but also has established herself as a force on the hardwood.

  • Sports
  • High Schools
  • Share

Besides being superstars in their respective sports, Patrick Mahomes, Abby Wambach, Bo Jackson and Elena Delle Donne all have something specific in common: They were all multi-sport athletes. 

For whatever reason, whether it be fear of falling behind in one sport or trying to take advantage of glimpses of promise in another, youth sports have entered an era in which athletes are specializing in one sport at an increasingly earlier age. In turn, that shift seems to have led to the transition away from the concept of multi-sport athletes from being the norm, to the minority. 

But still, despite the shifting landscape in the youth sports world, a multi-sport star can emerge from the collective cookie-cutter approach.

For the past four years, Zoe Calvez has been that multi-sport star at West Orange High.

More from Orange Observer Sports

All in the Family 

Calvez, a star centerfielder for the West Orange softball team and leading scorer for the Warriors girls basketball team, has been a varsity athlete at the school since her freshman year. Before high school, she was a competitive cheerleader and also played soccer. 

This multi-sport approach can be directly linked to Calvez’s family. 

“She comes from a very athletic background,” West Orange softball coach John Colbert said. “Her mom played softball at Florida State, her older brother Julian (Calvez) is the quarterback at Grambling State, and she also has a cousin (who) played football at Grambling. The competitive spirit and drive that it takes to be a successful athlete — that just runs naturally in that family. 

“I got to work with her older brother when he was a junior here, and he was our starting quarterback,” he said. “I can see how growing up around him, she’s excelled and become the player she is in basketball and softball. There’s no question that her family environment has helped her development tremendously.” 

Calvez can’t remember a time when she wasn’t competing. 

“I was born into this; I’ve been competing with my brother since I can remember,” she said. “There’s just something about being out there competing with other people and becoming a family with your teammates — it’s something I just love.”

Combine the competitive environment in which she was raised, her natural physical ability and the hard work she put into developing as an athlete, and you get one of the most exciting athletes in West Orange.

From roaming centerfield for the Warriors and her club team — the Atlanta Vipers — Calvez has earned plenty of accolades. Those include helping lead West Orange softball to the 2021 Class 7A FHSAA regional finals as a freshman, her three selections to FHSAA All-State softball teams and her selection to the 2023 PGF Softball All-American futures team. 

Throughout her four-year high school career, Calvez has a career batting average of .387 (109/282), 44 RBIs, 110 runs, 55 stolen bases and three home runs, while West Orange’s combined record in the span is 56-36-1. 

Calvez is the No. 5 overall softball prospect in the country and after graduation will head to Baton Rouge to play for the currently second-ranked LSU Tigers.

“What makes her special is her competitive spirit,” Colbert said. “It’s her speed, it’s her arm strength, it’s her ability to do more than one thing at the plate. She can slap the ball, she can bump the ball, she can swing the bat. She has a very diverse skill set, and that’s what makes her who she is. She’s just an all-around player and all-around person.”

On the hardwood, she saw playing time as a freshman but ultimately found herself in the starting rotation as a sophomore. In her junior and senior seasons, Calvez became the primary scorer and ball-handler for the Warriors, averaging 11 points per game as a senior and 10 as a junior. She finished her career with 93 career games played and was a contributor to the 2021 district champion team. 

Best of both worlds

Calvez said playing both basketball and softball in high school, and cheerleading and soccer at the youth sports level, was beneficial to her development. 

“Because I played multiple sports, I’ve been able to tie them together and help me improve in a specific sport,” Calvez said. 

“At the end of the day, it’s all competitive, and it can make you drive harder and harder. Learning different aspects of other sports has helped me improve. Like, cheerleading helped me get a little faster and lighter on my feet, which helps in both basketball and softball. Basketball also helps hand-eye coordination which is vital for softball.”

Colbert agrees: “The two sports complement each other really well, believe it or not,” Colbert said. 

“Obviously, the hand-eye coordination Zoe mentioned was right on the money, but another example I can think of is I’ve seen her layout on the hardwood floor for a loose basketball. She had to do that in centerfield, too, every now and then. You have to be fearless to be going full speed to try and make a play and she is. I think those two kind of complement each other in that aspect because if you’re diving on the floor for a ball you have no fear. If you’re charging at a ball that’s coming in short from centerfield and you have your motor turned on full speed and are going after it; you have no fear. And that’s Zoe Calvez.”

Mentality matters

There is no denying Calvez is a superior athlete — and even she admits she can pick up sports more quickly than most. But through her years of competing in multiple sports, she has learned that her mental strength is just as important to her success on the field of play. 

“Being coachable is one of the biggest things that I’ve taken away from my experience in sports,” Calvez said. “I try to make sure that I’m always trying to take everything in that coaches are trying to teach me.”

That wasn’t always the case, though, especially when her coach was her mom. 

“I remember always thinking that she was trying to call me out and use me as an example because I was her daughter,” she said. “But, she was really trying to just lift me up and teach me the right things. So, learning how to be coachable and learning that people are really just trying to help you was a big part of my growth. I’m glad that I learned that at a young age with my mom.” 

With the end of basketball season overlapping with the start of softball, Colbert has seen how Calvez’s attitude toward coaching plays a big part in making that transition as smooth as possible. 

“That happened this season; we had to wait for the basketball season to end with them in the playoffs before we got some our athletes out here,” Colbert said. “Literally, we didn’t get them out here until two weeks later. Because of that delay, Zoe’s been kind of a slow starter for us, but we know once she gets going, she’s going. … That circumstance always shows just how coachable she is. She always approached it with a humble attitude, she really is one of the most humble people that I’ve ever been around.”

Calvez’s mentality toward playing multiple sports and her perspective on why it’s important to be coachable is just a pair among many other indications that she’s the kind of person who can accomplish amazing things if she puts her mind to it. 

So, when it comes to playing at the next level for LSU in the SEC, Calvez is approaching her next big transition with the same level of poise and rationale. 

“She’s a very goal-oriented person, and when it comes to LSU, she’s already got her goals set for when she gets there,” Colbert said. “We’ve talked about them, and they’re very simple — but at the same time huge. First, she wants to get there and earn a starting position on the team. When that’s going to happen? She doesn’t know. I don’t know. LSU doesn’t know. But she’s going to go after it and find a way through the crowd and earn that starting job. Once she does that, she wants to become a team captain, which is a long-term goal. For a team goal, she wants to win some kind of championship while she’s there. And her last goal, obviously, is to earn her college degree.”

Sam Albuquerque is the Sports Editor for the Orange Observer. Please contact him with story ideas, results and statistics.

 Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @SamBAlbuquerque

Instagram: @OrangeObserverSam



Sam Albuquerque

A native of João Pessoa, Brazil, Sam Albuquerque moved in 1997 to Central Florida as a kid. After earning a communications degree in 2016 from the University of Central Florida, he started his career covering sports as a producer for a local radio station, ESPN 580 Orlando. He went on to earn a master’s degree in editorial journalism from Northwestern University, before moving to South Carolina to cover local sports for the USA Today Network’s Spartanburg Herald-Journal. When he’s not working, you can find him spending time with his lovely wife, Sarah, newborn son, Noah, and dog named Skulí.

Latest News