Triple threat: Belmont’s Estremera thriving as three-sport athlete

  • Belmont’s Julianna Estremera dribbles upcourt during a game against Hopkinton on Monday. Rich Miyara file photo / NH Sports Photography

  • Belmont’s Julianna Estremera puts up a shot during a game against Hopkinton on Monday. Rich Miyara file photo / NH Sports Photography

  • Belmont’s Julianna Estremera unleashes a shot during a game against Raymond in 2017. Rich Miyara file photo / NH Sports Photography

  • Belmont’s Julianna Estremera (left) hugs a teammate after a goal during a game against Raymond in 2017. Estremera has been a force for the Raiders in basketball, soccer and softball over the past four years. Rich Miyara file photo / NH Sports Photography

Monitor staff
Published: 1/17/2019 11:51:27 PM

Coaches rave about her maturity, preparation and work ethic. Teammates can’t get enough of her. And when she graduates from Belmont High School this summer, she’ll leave as one of the most versatile athletes in school history.

A staple in the sports scene for the Raiders over the last four years, Julianna Estremera has defined what it means to be a student-athlete and has enjoyed every minute of the ride.

“I think (playing sports) has been a very important part of my high school career,” said Estremera, a Belmont senior who excels in basketball, soccer and softball for the Raiders. “Especially these last couple of years as an upperclassman. Being able to help the younger people out. It’s all just been really fun for me.”

Estremera, better known as “JuJu,” is currently in the middle of her final basketball season at Belmont where she’s chasing 1,000 career points. In the fall, she was the leading scorer on the girls’ soccer team, which earned the top seed for the Division III tournament and made it all the way to the final four. And in the spring, she’ll return as the leader of the infield and play shortstop for the softball team.

“What (Julianna) has done on a personal level – it’s hard being a high school athlete, it’s hard going to school, it’s hard doing the work – it’s amazing,” Belmont softball coach Bill Clary said. “She has done unbelievable work in the classroom, too, but at the same time, she’s not only a three-sport athlete, she’s a three-sport athlete that is making First Team (All-State) in all of those sports.”

Estremera has been a varsity athlete on all three teams since she came to Belmont as a freshman. As each season changes, Estremera quickly ramps up for her next sport, making a difficult transition look seamless with her high level of play.

“It takes a special athlete,” Belmont girls’ basketball and soccer coach Mark Dawalga said. “She was Division III First Team last year in soccer and she’s playing to that level in basketball. You don’t just show up and play. She has a natural athletic ability, which is great, but she puts the extra time and hard work in during the summer to make sure she’s on top of her game all the time.”

Estremera did everything for Dawlaga this past fall on the soccer field, leading the team in goals (16) for the second straight year after notching 23 scores the season before to earn a First Team All-State nod.

Under Dawalga on the hardwood this season, Estremera has boosted her average to 17 points per game and is an integral part of what makes the Raiders (4-5) click, orchestrating the offense from the point guard position.

Entering Friday night’s game at White Mountains, Estremera sits at 857 career points – 143 shy of 1,000 with nine games left in the regular season.

Estremera said when the season began it was difficult not to focus on the milestone, but she has since taken a new approach.

“When I started I came out with two big games, like 25 and 17 points, and I started thinking, ‘Oh, I need this many points per game.’ And now I just kind of let that go,” Estremera said. “I’m trying to put that goal aside. I still know it’s there, but I just don’t think about it as much and focusing on the team more helps a lot.”

When Estremera makes the move to softball, her favorite sport among the three, she will again be tabbed as a leader and a captain, helping the Raiders in the infield, as well as in the pitching circle.

A First-Team All-State selection on the field last year, Estremera took on the role of ace on a young pitching staff and led the Raiders to their first finals appearance in Division III. In that title-game loss to White Mountains, Estremera went the distance and didn’t serve up her first hit until the fourth inning.

“She wants to be in the middle of every play. She actually doesn’t like to pitch,” Clary said. “But last year I told her, ‘I know you don’t want to pitch, but there are going to be times where I’m going to need you,’ and she accepted that. I don’t know if she would’ve done that her sophomore season, but last year she accepted it and thrived at it.”

The one constant for Estremera, regardless of sport, is the level of comfort she provides her coaches. There are no surprises. Just a high level of play and reliability.

“The confidence level as a coach is it’s just one position you don’t have to worry about. Whether it’s a striker for me in soccer, or a guard in basketball, it’s a position you don’t worry about,” Dawalga said. “I’ll be honest with you, she will be missed throughout all the programs. She’s been a staple of the programs, and as a coach, you sometimes take it for granted. You see it coming. You know it’s ending and you’re going to miss it.”

As for Estremera’s life after Belmont, she said she hasn’t decided on a college, but recently was accepted to San Diego State University. She’s putting academics first, but still wants to be involved in athletics any way she can.

“Her future is at her fingertips,” Clary said. “She talked about going to the West Coast. She can do just about anything she wants to do if she puts her mind to it. If people think she can’t do something, they don’t know her.”

(Jay McAree can be reached at 369-3371, jmcaree@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JayMcAree.)


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