Academy features three-sport star
Aliya Luther is the first athlete to start as a freshman on three of the school’s varsity teams, according to San Diego Jewish Academy Athletic Director Charlie Wund.
“That is a unique accomplishment at any school,” said Wund. “Aliya is a phenomenal athlete with all the right tools. She can play all those sports on a college level. She puts together the mental with the physical game. This will be Aliya’s defining year to impress the college scouts.”
Now a junior, the 5' 10" Luther has excelled and lettered in three sports, volleyball, basketball, and softball. Born and raised in the San Diego area, Luther entered the school in the sixth grade.
“Even though I started playing T-ball when I was 5 years old,” said Luther, “it wasn’t until the sixth grade at the Jewish Academy that I started playing basketball and volleyball.”
One of Luther’s biggest fans and her role model is her father Bernard Luther Sr.
“My dad influenced me in sports,” said Luther. “He played basketball in the military and also professional tennis, until he blew out his knee. He is the oldest of eight kids and helped raise his brothers and sisters. My dad was the only one in his family to graduate from high school and college, and he still helps out his family. I admire him so much.”
Last year when All-CIF basketball player and leading San Diego section scorer Amanda Norman was not allowed to play, Luther took over the leadership role.
“When Amanda left, we started playing as a team,” she said. “I had to handle the ball more and my teammates respected my leadership abilities.”
Also last season, Luther was the starting catcher on the Lady Lions’ division championship team. She caught for star pitcher Ali Adelman, who became the Jewish Academy’s first Div. 1 college athlete. Adelman is now at the University of Connecticut.
“I enjoyed catching Ali, because what she meant to our team,” said Luther. “I even called some pitches and she didn’t shake me off. She listened to me. I also had to wear extra padding on my catching hand because of the speed of Ali’s pitches.”
This year the Academy’s girls volleyball team has already surpassed its previous three-year win total.
“We are pleasantly surprised with our success,” said middle hitter Luther. “All our hard work is paying off. Plus a lot of our success is because of our new coach Melissa Maxwell. I just want to be consistent in volleyball, keep the ball in play and be mentally focused.”
Luther says she has to carefully balance goals in her three sports.
“My goals for this year in basketball are to work on my ball handling, stop fouling out and increase my court awareness,” she said. “In softball; work on my stance, balance and footwork in hitting. And in volleyball, work on my skills and be consistent.”
As a leader on the three teams Luther convinced the team to wear high socks in volleyball matches, crazy socks as long as they match the uniform colors in basketball, and two French braids in softball.
“The first couple of games last year I didn’t wear French braids,” she said. “But, the game I started wearing them in was when I hit my first homerun.”