Before The World Knew Their Names, These Celebrities Were High School Athletes

It’s hard to believe, but before celebrities became international sensations, most of them were normal, awkward high schoolers. Some of them even took part in their schools’ athletic programs, helping their respective teams win championships and make it to state. Imagine going to the school ice hockey game, only to see Steve Carell padded up in the goal with Avril Lavigne skating down the ice toward him.

That’s right, both The Office star and the pop singer played in high school. Before tabloids and major news outlets wrote articles about their latest movies, television shows, or hit singles, local papers knew these celebrities by their names and high school sports statistics.

James Dean Played Basketball For His High School

James Dean Played Basketball For His High School
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Cultural icon and Golden Age of Hollywood star James Dean was like most other kids in his youth, joking around with friends and playing sports for his high school. While Dean was born in California, he ended up attending Fairmont High School in Indiana.

Back then, he was known as Jimmy, and he played on both the varsity basketball and baseball teams. According to the IndyStar, Dean was “an aggressive and intense perfectionist on the court. When a foul was called on him that he thought unfair, he would yank off those glasses and hurl them to the floor.” James Dean in glasses — fancy that!

Forest Whitaker Played Football

Forest Whitaker Played Football
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

Before becoming an Academy Award-Winning actor, Forest Whitaker attended Palisades Charter High School in Los Angeles, California. There, he played football and sang in the school choir. But it was the former that earned him an athletic scholarship to college. His football scholarship landed him at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona.

Unfortunately, he ended up injuring his back, needing to leave the sport in order to rehabilitate. This led the actor to transfer to the University of Southern California, where he studied opera music at the Thorton School of Music. Later, he was accepted into their Drama Conservatory.

Kevin James And Mick Foley Were On The Same Wrestling Team

Kevin James And Mick Foley Were On The Same Wrestling Team
Dale Method/Pinterest
Dale Method/Pinterest

Comedian Kevin James attended Ward Melville High School in Long Island, New York, and was part of the wrestling team with future WWE superstar Mick Foley. Both men were in the 145 lb weight class, with James as the number one wrestler on the team and the future champion coming in a close second place!

As things tend to go in sports, James stepped off the mat for good after a back injury, giving Foley the chance to snag the top spot on the team. The two men are still friends today and love to reminisce about their time on the team together whenever they have the chance.

Tom Selleck Played Baseball, Winning An Athletic Scholarship

Tom Selleck Played Baseball, Winning An Athletic Scholarship
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Tom Selleck wasn’t always known as the man with the amazingly awesome mustache. One upon a time, he was a young kid, still very tall, who played baseball for Grant High School in Los Angeles, California, in the late ’50s and early ’60s.

He later earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Southern California, where he played basketball for the Trojans. Yea, we know, plot twist on the sports front. But, honestly, not to stereotype, but someone that size is probably good at any sport he plays. We mean, the guy is six foot four, for crying out loud!

Kate Middleton Was A Field Hockey Player

Kate Middleton Was A Field Hockey Player
Chris Jackson – WPA Pool /Getty Images
Chris Jackson – WPA Pool /Getty Images

Considering she is married to the person who’s second in succession for the British throne, it’s hard to imagine the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton playing any type of sport in high school, let alone one where you have the potential to get down and dirty! But she did.

The Duchess was actually a very fierce competitor in her youth, playing for her school’s field hockey team. During an interview, Duchess Kate said, “Sport has been a huge part of my life, and I feel incredibly grateful for the opportunities I had to get outside and play in such wonderful open spaces – though, sadly, there was nothing quite as glamorous as this in my time!”

Steve Carell Was An Ice Hockey Goaltender

Steve Carell Was An Ice Hockey Goaltender
NBC
NBC

Before he showed off his skating skills as Michael Scott, Steve Carell was on the ice playing goaltender for the Middlesex School ice hockey team in Concord, Massachusetts. And while he enjoyed the sport, the actor didn’t see himself making it into a career. So, he didn’t want to play at a Division I school.

During an interview with ESPN, Carell said, “I had to think about whether I was going to a Division I college hockey program and fight for a job of a goaltender or do something else.” He wound up playing for fun at a small Division III school in Ohio, Denison University.

Before Stardom, Britney Spears Played High School Basketball

Before Stardom, Britney Spears Play High School Basketball
KMazur/WireImage
KMazur/WireImage

After the Mickey Mouse Club was canceled in 1996, the Princess of Pop, Britney Spears, returned home to Mississippi and enrolled in the local high school, McComb’s Parklane Academy. But, according to the pop star, she was very bored and wanted more out of life than a cliquey high school that looked like it was from the opening scenes of Clueless.

So, to take up her time, she joined the school basketball team, playing point guard. It only took a few years after her high school graduation, but Spears became one of the biggest names in the world when her album Baby One More Time hit stores in 1999.

Will Ferrell Was On His High School’s Soccer Team

Will Ferrell Was On His High School's Soccer Team
Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage
Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage

Ironically, before becoming the coach in the comedy Kicking & Screaming, actor Will Ferrell was one of the kids. Well, maybe a bit older, but you get the picture. While attending University High School in Irvine, California, Ferrell played various sports, one of which was soccer.

He was also the captain of the basketball team, as well as the kicker for the varsity football team. Sorry, but is anyone else picturing Buddy the Elf lining up for a field goal with a bunch of high schoolers staring at him like he has eight heads? We’re sure it wasn’t like that, but we’d like to pretend.

Matthew McConaughey Played Tennis And Golf

Matthew McConaughey Played Tennis And Golf
Victor Fraile/Getty Images for Mission Hills
Athit Perawongmetha/Getty Images for Mission Hills

Alright, alright, alright, so, Texas rom-com heartthrob Matthew McConaughey wasn’t always an Academy Award-winning actor. Instead, he was nothing but a country boy, playing golf and tennis for Longview High School in Longview, Texas. Although McConaughey loved the game, he didn’t continue playing at the collegiate level.

The number of games he played weekly began decreasing by the time he ventured into film school. But, now that his career is stable, he’s back up to playing multiple games a week when the weather permits. Oh, and he’s the proud owner of a single-digit handicap. Not too shabby!

George Clooney Played Varsity Basketball

George Clooney Played Varsity Basketball
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

When he was younger, George Clooney knew exactly what he wanted to be when he grew up: a professional baseball player for the Cincinnati Reds. To make that dream a reality, the actor played baseball all throughout his adolescence, first for Augusta High School’s varsity team in Kentucky before trying out for the pros.

In 1977, Clooney took a swing at it and tried out for his childhood dream team, the Reds. To his displeasure, he didn’t make it past the first round of player cuts. That’s good news for fans of his films, though, since the MLB would have taken up a majority of his time.

Geena Davis Is An Accomplished Archer

Geena Davis Is An Accomplished Archer
Jim Pozarik/Getty Images
Jim Pozarik/Getty Images

Okay, bear with us with Geena Davis, since the actress technically didn’t consider herself an athlete in high school. While attending Wareham High School in Massachusetts, Davis was actually more interested in learning music than picking up a ball, racquet, or any other type of sporting equipment.

It wasn’t until later in her life that Davis got very interested in and extremely good at archery! In 1999, the actress was one of 300 women who competed for a spot on the 200 Summer Olympic team. Unfortunately, she placed 24th and didn’t qualify.

Avril Lavigne Was An Ice Sk8R Girl In High School

Avril Lavigne Was An Ice Sk8R Girl In High School
L. Busacca/NHLImages for RCA Records
L. Busacca/NHLImages for RCA Records

Growing up in Ontario, Canada, it’s no surprise that singer Avril Lavigne had her feet in ice skates shortly after learning how to walk. By the age of ten, she was an accomplished right-winger, playing on the local boy’s team before joining the girls’ team at Napanee District High School.

When ESPN asked what her shining moment was during her competitive days, the singer said, “One time I had a breakaway in a game and scored. My dad caught it on tape. That was probably my big shining moment. I also remember getting into fights with the goalies and hearing cheers from the moms because I was the only girl.”

Sheryl Crow Went To State For Hurdles In Track And Field

Sheryl Crow Went To State For Hurdles In Track And Field
Alexandra Wyman/WireImage for BWR Public Relations
Alexandra Wyman/WireImage for BWR Public Relations

Can you imagine walking home from school at the end of the day only to see soon-to-be country superstar Sheryl Crow running around the track and jumping hurdles? Well, that’s exactly what she did back in the day when she attended Kennett High School in Pennsylvania.

There, she was very much invested in the track and field team, making her way to the state championship meet in the 75-meter low hurdles. But that’s pretty much where Crow’s competitive athletic journey ends. Now, she will go for light jogs to clear her mind and keep her body healthy.

Amy Adams Ran Track But Loved To Dance

Amy Adams Ran Track But Loved To Dance
Bauer-Griffin/GC Images
Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Actress Amy Adams was not too fond of high school overall. She attended Douglas County High in Castle Rock, Colorado, but she did enjoy the creative arts and various forms of athletics. During her time in school, Adams was an active member of the track and field team, but her real love was for ballet.

She trained as an apprentice dancer at the David Taylor Dance Company until she realized her dancing wasn’t going to take her to a professional level. Adam’s didn’t have “the right feet.” All the better for her fans, though, since she found love in musical theater, later segueing into the film industry.

Gwen Stefani Was On Her High School Swim Team

Gwen Stefani Was On Her High School Swim Team
TOE/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images
TOE/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

If you can believe it, apparently No Doubt frontwoman and The Voice coach Gwen Stefani thought she was a bit overweight in high school. Because of this, she decided to join the swim team at Loara High School in Anaheim, California, aka the ultimate Southern California high school sport.

Obviously, the now-mom of three can strut around in whatever she wants because her workout regime is on point, and she looks amazing! Nowadays, Stefani’s workout routine is more out of the water and in the gym, where she enjoys boxing and more old-fashioned exercises.

Hugh Jackman Was An Avid Rugby Player

NRL Grand Final Fan Day
Matt King/Getty Images
Matt King/Getty Images

Having played the role of an immortal mutant, it’s safe to say Australian actor Hugh Jackman is one tough cookie. So, it’s no wonder he took up one of his countries favorite sports while he was in high school, one that isn’t for the faint of heart. While attending Knox Grammar School on the Upper North Shore of Sydney, Australia, Jackman was on the rugby and lacrosse teams.

Considering the two sports are contact heavy, it’s safe to assume Jackman enjoyed getting hit in his youth! Today, Jackman enjoys watching the game more than playing. His team of choice is the Eagles.

Kate Hudson Was Pretty Serious About Soccer

Kate Hudson Was Pretty Serious About Soccer
Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Fabletics
Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Fabletics

With Academy Award-winning actress Goldie Hawn as her mother, it was destiny for Kate Hudson to find her way to Hollywood eventually. But, before that happened, she went to high school at a private college prep school in Santa Monica, California, called Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences.

There, the Fabletics athletic apparel founder was very invested in the girl’s soccer team but gave it up to pursue acting and dance. During an interview with People, Hudson said, “I realized I didn’t want to seriously pursue soccer…It was a really difficult decision for me because I love competitive sport. I miss it to this day.”

Channing Tatum Played Football And Ran Track

Channing Tatum Played Football And Ran Track
George Gojkovich/Getty Images
George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Channing Tatum attended Tampa Catholic High School in Tampa, Florida, a private school where, by the end of his senior year, he was voted the most athletic. While he was there, the Magic Mike star ran track and played football, but it was the latter that helped his get into college.

With an athletic scholarship, Tatum played football for Glenville State College in West Virginia. For some reason, it doesn’t surprise us that he got bored of the sport and dropped out, returning home to Tampa to work odd jobs until he was “found” by a modeling agent in Miami.

Gigi Hadid Was A High School Volleyball Star

Gigi Hadid Was A High School Volleyball Star
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Sports Illustrated

Before she became one of the top fashion models in the world, Gigi Hadid was a typical high school student-athlete. She graduated from Malibu High School in Malibu, California, back in 2013. There, she was captain of the varsity volleyball team.

Considering the model is a solid five feet ten inches, we’re sure she dominated the court and was able to deliver a mean spike over the net. Even though Hadid was a strong competitor, she didn’t pursue the sport in college, opting to move to New York in favor of a modeling career.

Tom Cruise Was A Wrestler

Tom Cruise Was A Wrestler
STR/AFP via Getty Images
STR/AFP via Getty Images

Tom Mapother, aka Tom Cruise, was part of his high school’s varsity wrestling team at Glen Ridge High in New Jersey, where he was also part of the baseball team. According to a former teammate, the former sport was a great fit for the actor.

During an exclusive interview, Cruise’s former teammate TJ said, “It was a perfect fit for him – wrestling helped to control your body and mind. You have to be in perfect shape, and it’s one-to-one combat.” It looks like Cruise had a bit of an anger issue, moving from Kentucky to New Jersey during his youth.