Winning grows on Trees: 2-sport standout leads Falcons

Katie Trees is a two-sport standout at Torrey Pines who wants to someday be a lawyer.

If her sports track record is any indication, best of luck to her future legal combatants.

Trees, who just completed her junior year, has already accepted a scholarship to play soccer and lacrosse at academically rigorous Duke. She’s maintained a 3.55 GPA at Torrey Pines while playing soccer year-round (at Torrey Pines and for the San Diego Surf club team) and lacrosse.

Trees led the Falcons to their first San Diego Section lacrosse title last month, scoring four goals in a 9-8 championship victory over Coronado. She led the team with 53 goals and 22 assists. Trees also led the soccer team in goals (14) and points (36) despite missing half the season with a knee injury.

She is known as an ultra-intense competitor who inspires teammates in both sports.

“I just like to win, I’ll do pretty much anything but cheat or hurt people to win,” she said.

“You always want to be the best in what you do, or what you attempt to do, whether it’s kicking the soccer ball or playing the piano.”

Yes, she’s a pianist of note too.

Trees recently received a Level 8 Certification of Merit after passing tests piano theory, and playing performance. She practices about an hour a day.

Trees attributes her competitiveness to her upbringing. She’s the youngest of four siblings in a family where a work ethic was instilled at a young age, and everyone played sports.

Trees played soccer since she was five, and picked up lacrosse in sixth grade, following the footsteps of her older sister Becky. Becky Trees, who also played at Torrey Pines, had one of the most distinguished high school careers in San Diego County history and now plays club lacrosse at UCLA.

Her oldest brother, Andrew, played football, baseball and golf at Torrey Pines. Her brother Ben, who died at 16 in 2006, remains an inspirational force in Katie Trees’ life.

“He used to pick on me, but it was always in a good way,” she said. “He said I needed to be tougher.”

Katie Trees was 10 when she first experienced the exhilaration of victory when her Surf team won a national title at Lancaster National Soccer Center.

“That was the first time we’d ever won, so it was really exciting and fun,” she said. “We rode home in a limo bus.”

Her whatever-it-takes approach became apparent by the time she was in middle school.

“That’s when people started noticing I had the ‘no-prisoners’ type deal,” she said.

But her competitiveness isn’t something evident in her off-field persona, Falcons soccer coach Dennis Costello said.

“You just talk to her normally, and she’s a very jovial sort of person, but when it comes to playing games and stuff like that, she’s very intense,” he said.

“Put it this way, she really doesn’t like to take second place.”

But although respected by her teammates for her fierce loyalty, Costello said they sometimes don’t always know what to make of her fierce competitiveness, something he attributes in part to a double-standard about what’s expected of boys and girls in high school sports.

“Guys will let it let it rub off their shoulder, they won’t even bother with it, but sometimes girls take it personally that she’s like that,” Costello said. “They don’t understand how competitive she is.”

Trees noted that female athletes are typically encouraged to “just have fun out there.”

“I like having fun out there too, but for me having fun is winning,” she said.

Trees said she’s always believed in putting her best foot forward in any endeavor, because you never know where it will lead, and that winning validates the effort that goes into the journey.

“It’s not the trophy that you get afterwards, I think it’s probably the hard work that I put into it, I mean, sports are my life,” she said, “and seeing your teammates so happy after they win makes it all worth it.”