Van Alstyne's Cholette, epitome of a student athlete
There are many reasons we have interscholastic athletic competitions. We recognize the benefits of developing a person from cooperation through teamwork, positive mentors, personal traits of persistence, time management, and leadership. One of Van Alstyne's top academic graduating students addressed all of those benefits when sharing about her cross country journey.
Alli Cholette, who is currently ranked second in her class, said competing in cross country is about more than athletics.
"Running has helped me be a better student by teaching me discipline and given me a healthy stress outlet," she said. "Running cross country has taught me to push myself beyond what I think I can do. I have realized that for me, it doesn't have to be about winning or losing, but it's about being there with my team and learning to enjoy the process."
There are many life lessons taught through cross country with just its typical workout time, four days a week at 6:15 a.m.
As a senior, she knew that leadership is essential, especially at that time of day.
"As a senior, I think it is important to have a positive attitude even when it is 6 a.m., and I am being told to run four miles," she said. "I hope the underclassmen will see that your mindset is as important as your athletic ability and that they will become even better leaders than I am."
As another school and sports year began, no one knew what the year would look like in August. Leadership would be necessary even more so.
"With all the unknowns earlier this summer, it became easy to be overcome with uncertainty, and I think it is easy to have a negative mindset," she said. "However, cross country season has given me the ability to be focused on running, and that brings a little bit of calm to the chaotic times that are happening. It is very exciting that we were still able to have a season despite the pandemic."
To Alli, part of being a leader is creating bonds with teammates. Her favorite memory is attached to the connection between time spent at early morning practice, bus-rides, and competitions.
"My greatest memory from running cross country was before the state meet freshmen year," she said. "Our team bought blue hair dye and all dyed a section of our hair together in a Chic-fil-a bathroom."
Cross country would provide Alli a mentor, not just a coach, reminding us of the need for positive mentors in a young person's life.
"Coach Sevarino has had the greatest impact on my life because she always encouraged me, and she invested in me as an athlete and a person," she said. "She took the time to care for me and helped our team become a place of support and love for everyone during a tough point in my life. Coach Sevarino taught me that Running is a lot more than just running and that it can heal you and help you grow."
Current VAHS cross country coach Russell Best praises Alli.
"She is an outstanding teammate," Best said. "Alli is always very supportive and gives lots of words of encouragement to others. She works hard and doesn't complain. She has been a joy to coach over the years."
Alli's leadership at the 2019 District cross country meet was evident. After completing the course herself, she was back hours later on her own time to support the middle school team. Knowing the path they would run, Alli placed herself at the most challenging portion to encourage the younger generation of Panther runners. She did not have to be there that day, she could have stayed at the finish line, but she knew the importance of the placement of encouragement at the right place.
Next year for Alli, the plan is to study international studies at hopefully Princeton but she said it may likely University of Texas.
"My time as a Panther Athlete has been awesome! I am so appreciative of my teammates past and present and my coaches," she said. "They have shaped my high school career and have taught me things to last a lifetime."