"Just Do It" was Leigh Miller Pyle’s senior yearbook quote, and it pretty well sums up her athletic career. Except she didn’t just do It, she did Everything. She played three sports in school, but Pyle was also looking to try new ones outside of school. She won championships and set records. She led teams, she led committees, and she led rallies. As teammate, friend, and SSSAS Hall of Famer Anna Yates McDermott ’91 put it, “She is easily the best athlete I know, and she deserves to be in the Hall of Fame more than anyone I know.”
Pyle’s former coaches and teammates describe her as the complete package with extraordinary hand-eye coordination, strength, game sense, mental toughness, competitiveness, and leadership. Her skill set helped account for an historic time in St. Agnes School athletic history: With the exception of one season of basketball, the varsity teams won league championships in field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse during her sophomore, junior, and senior years. Furthermore, she was All-ISL (Independent School League) in each of her three sports for two straight years, and she captained all three of her sports her senior year.
“Leigh was an exciting athlete to watch,” said SSSAS Head Girls Lacrosse Coach and Physical Education Teacher Kathy Jenkins. “She was a competitive athlete who played with heart and always found a way to win. Whether she was shooting a foul shot or intercepting a pass, you just knew she was going to succeed at both ends of the field or gym.”
In field hockey, Pyle helped lead the Saints to an undefeated record, ISL championship, and ISL Tournament championship both her junior and senior years. She was All-ISL both of those years and notched 28 career goals.
In basketball, Pyle is the only Saints girls player who has scored more than 1,000 points in her career (1,041). She holds the single-season record for most points scored with 437, and she holds the record for most points scored in a single game with 36. She is also on the charts for numerous other records for assists, steals, and rebounds. For good reason, Alexandria Journal reporter Eddie Rogers said of Pyle her senior year, “She is easily the best all-around player in the city.”
In addition to being a prolific scorer, she was a team player and cool under pressure. She was once quoted in a local newspaper saying, “I don’t put any pressure on myself … If I’m not hitting then Anna [Yates McDermott] will, and if she’s not, then someone else will.”
In lacrosse, her teams were ISL Champions and ISL Tournament Champions all four years with a total record of 63-3-1 (undefeated in 1988). Pyle tallied 63 goals and 68 assists total and made All-ISL as a sophomore, junior, and senior. She capped her high school lacrosse career with All-American honors and then continued at Brown University, earning Rookie of the Year her freshman year and eventually captaining the team her senior year. But perhaps the best story of her lacrosse career is how she taught herself to play left-handed to gain an advantage against her opponents. She practiced with Betsey Rice during lunch and became ambidextrous at the third man position. “She would try anything to be the best,” said McDermott. “It just shows you how wicked competitive she was, and how she had a killer instinct.”