• Essay Project 2021

Essay Project 2021: Top Female Athletes in the Community


By Madison Luxmore


The defining characteristics of champions are present in all athletes, however, some more than others. According to IMG Academy (one of the top sport-based high schools in America), athletes must possess certain characteristics to be successful, including self-confidence, motivation, and self-discipline. To become champions, upcoming athletes must build upon these traits and practice them religiously. The following female athletes not only possess these characteristics, but display them for the world to see.

Jun. Runner Alyssa Jack. Picture provided by Alyssa Jack.


The first athlete is junior cross country runner Alyssa Jack. Jack is the current captain of Portland’s Girl’s Cross Country team and plans on running next year as a senior captain. One of her athletic characteristics is motivation in the sport. Alyssa earned her varsity letter as a freshman and has a personal record time of 26.00 minutes. Jack plans to attend a four-year university to obtain a business administration degree. Even though she does not plan on running competitively at the next level, she does plan to pursue tennis.


Jun. Golfer Ashley Bower. Picture provided by Ashley Bower.


The second athlete is another junior competing for Portland’s Girls Golf Team; Ashley Bower. Ashley was awarded the Map Award this season, had the lowest average of 9 and 18 holes, and also led the team to victory in several competitions. She was nominated by the head golf coach Sarah Honzowits, Honzowits choose to nominate Bower because “She sets high expectations and goals for herself and does what she needs to achieve them.” Bower demonstrates the attributes of a high-achieving athlete with her competitive mindset. After high school, she plans to attend a four-year college and has an interest in engineering. Bower does not plan to play golf at the collegiate level; rather she plans to pursue basketball. Ashley is a force to be reckoned with and we look forward to seeing what she can accomplish through the rest of high school and beyond.


Sen. Sideline Cheerleader Talia Blaska. Photo provided by Talia Blaska.


Next is a crowd favorite, a senior side-line cheerleader; Talia Blaska. Blaska is a captain and a flyer for the team. She stood out over the others due to her 10 years of experience and motivation to be her best. Sadly, this was her last season flying because Blaska does not plan to continue at the college level. Instead, she wants to focus on her studies at Grand Valley State University.


Jun. Competitive Cheerleader Catherine Svanda. Picture provided by Catherine Svanda.


The next female athlete is competitive cheerleader Catherine Svanda. Competitive cheer involves more of a gymnastic background and Svanda has just that. Svanda is a junior at Portland and a former competitive gymnast. She was nominated by the head coach, Mindy Balska, due to her abilities to “learn the material quickly and can help teach others, [her] leadership skills, and skill set for cheer.” After high school, Svanda plans to attend a four-year college and is undetermined about competing at the next level. Whether she chooses to or not, Svanda has the skill sets and abilities to be successful at anything she sets her mind to!


Jun. Basketball Player Ava Guilford. Picture was taken from https://www.ncsasports.org/womens-basketball-recruiting/michigan/portland/portland-high-school5/ava-guilford


Junior varsity basketball player, Ava Guilford, plays both point and shooting guard for the Raiders. She was nominated by the team manager, Tycen Froheip because she is able to “shoot from anywhere. She can make contested shots and play very good defense.” Guilford has a 75% free throw accuracy and averages 10 points per game (Guilford). She does plan to be a college student-athlete while pursuing a degree in physical science or kinesiology.


6th Grade Football Player Amari Adler. Picture provided by Amari Adler.


For all the football fans out there there’s a new athlete that has joined the game! Her name is Amari Adler, a sixth-grade wide receiver and safety. With multiple completed catches this season, she is rising to the top of her class. Adler plans to continue through middle school and throughout high school. When interviewed she expressed that, “[she will play until [she] can’t.” Football has become a huge aspect of her life, and she plans to keep it that way. Adler is very optimistic about what the future holds for her in the football world and we look forward to seeing what she is capable of doing in the years to come!


Adler is not the first female to participate in the Portland football program. She will be the first skilled-position/non-kicking girl to play high school football. Women have only been playing non-kicking positions since the 1970s (Fire). It is more normal for girls to be a kicker and/or punter. She, however, is straying from the normal and blazing a trail for future girls to follow.


Each of these athletes possesses the key attributes of stars on the rise. Something they all have in common is their hard work and drive to define themselves in the sports they compete in. As said in the poem With Hard Work by Hasmukh Amathalal,

“It is me alone

To identify as one

Even though surrounded by many

Yet it is to be realized fully”


Each one of these females athletes has to put in the blood, sweat, and tears every day to be able to stand out amongst their competitors. They will all be successful in whatever they care to achieve in life if they take on the world like it is the barrier they need to break.


Top Photo: Portland Raider Football Stadium. Picture was taken by Madison Luxmore.


This essay is part of a writing project by students in Chandra Polasek’s ELA class at Portland High School. The project asked students to focus on elements of their own town while getting students engaged with the community. The essays were written with the intention of being published in The Portland Beacon.

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