NORCROSS - Before one regular season practice Anne Marie Armstrong is shuffling across the floor, circling the top of Wesleyan's new gym in her socks.
She carries her shoes in one hand and a Vera Bradley duffel bag in the other. She doesn't know the specific pattern, it's just a bag filled with clothes. She leans over the railing and shouts to one of her basketball teammates. She smiles, tossing her bag absently in the coach's office. School is over for the day and she is ready to start practice.
To watch it, Armstrong looks like any high school junior. She walks with the comfort of familiarity but not an air of superiority. Only her letter jacket stands out. Armstrong is just past the halfway point of her high school career and varsity letters and championship patches cover the green and white coat.
"I already have to go on the back," she says with a shrug. "There is not enough room."
Five state titles in three sports in 21/3 school years will fill any jacket quickly.
Three titles come from volleyball, one is from basketball and the other is a track title in the high jump.
But Armstrong is not strutting around with her letter-heavy coat. She is shuffling in socks, flashing her full smile.
"I am not really like the big person on campus," she said, no pretension in her voice. "The majority of everyone knows everyone at this school. If you are an athlete, I guess people tend to know you a little more because they came to your sport or whatever."
For Armstrong, her classmates have had plenty of opportunities to see her play. She didn't win a state championship in basketball as a sophomore, but her team was the runner-up. The loss was the first high school team sport season Armstrong ended with a loss.
"Some seasons are not going to go the best and you are going to lose," Armstrong said. "For the most part, all of my seasons have gone almost as good as they can go."
It's an understatement Armstrong doesn't appreciate. For her, losses come sparingly. Minor corrections on a steep upward climb of success. The winning was an environment she entered, though.
As a freshman, the Wolves' volleyball team was one year into its current run of four straight titles and the basketball team also boasted a dynastic string of state championships. Armstrong didn't create winning at Wesleyan, but in just over two years she is beginning to define it.
Yet none of that defines Anne Marie Armstrong.
She doesn't embrace school, but with a high B average she gets her work done.
"In classes, I try to take notes but sometimes I talk a little too much," she said. "Honestly, I don't like school, but I like the fact that it is kind of a way for me to socialize. But school is important."
Her busy schedule keeps her from taking as many naps as she wants or seeing her friends as often as she would like. But her family does make time for dinner most nights - a mandate from her mother, Leslie.
Athletically, despite the letter jacket and the statistics and the phone calls from colleges, Armstrong keeps her success in a perspective she could easily ignore.
"People need to know that it is not just one person that makes a good team," she said. "I feel kind of guilty or feel bad because I know that sometimes (my teammates) are like, 'It is not just her.' They are the reason that I have become so good and become a better shooter and become more mentally tough. That's because of my teammates."
And Armstrong said that with an urgency and emotion which can't be feigned. She believes her success is as much a product of others' ability as it is her's.
Her basketball coach, Jan Azar, swears Armstrong knows how good she is.
"She knows she is the best player on the court, and that is a good thing," Azar said.
But Armstrong doesn't let her talent handicap her. She leads the basketball team in points, rebounds and assists. She'll make a pass as quickly as she'll take a shot.
"She is a kid that is not concerned with her own individual stats," Azar said. "She just wants to win."
Growing up, Armstrong chose sports instinctively. She describes herself as a tomboy and she played basketball and football with the boys.
"I was not like the other girls who stood around and talked or stuff like that," Armstrong said.
At age 7, she started playing basketball at the YMCA in Norcross and then at the Peachtree Corners Baptist Church. At 9, she was playing AAU.
Before starting Wesleyan in seventh grade, Armstrong went to the Deo Preparatory School and with 12 kids in her class. Track was the only sporting option.
She didn't start playing volleyball until she entered Wesleyan and also spent six years playing softball.
"I like to do sports and stuff, that is just my thing," Armstrong said.
A talented female athlete is nothing unique, but Armstrong, in a way, is an iconoclast. Be it basketball, swimming, golf, tennis, volleyball, soccer or softball, most athletes spend all their time playing one sport. They'll brag about having played their chosen sports since age 6. The high school season is just one of many seasons strung together of different teams and different schedules, but all the same sport.
And Armstrong can't pick a favorite.
"They are so different," she said of all the sports she plays. "I have been trying to pick for about two years, because I have to pick colleges.
"I think it is more fun to play multiple sports. You can jump around to different things. If you are sick of basketball, then it is track season."
For her coaches it is refreshing and exciting.
"Anne Marie is a great role model for kids that you can be successful at something by not spending every day doing it," Azar said. "When she decides to get just one ball in her hands, she is going to be a very, very special player."
That day looms, but it is not here yet. She still has much of high school to finish and there are still some empty spots on her letter jacket.