06.20.2017 Monthly Motivations: I'm A Loser, Baby
With our 2017 Triple-Impact Competitor® Scholarship Application period open through May 31, now is a great time to look back and learn more about our 2016 winners.
Each one of these five students was awarded a $1,000 Triple-Impact Competitor® Scholarship by the Cleveland Chapter of Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA-Cleveland). The award is presented to student-athletes who have made a significant positive impact in their schools, on their teams, and in their communities by demonstrating a commitment to making themselves better, their teammates better, and their sport better.
Benedictine High School
Demonstrates resilience, class, and unselfishness in competition and in the classroom
If you’re ever up against Maceo Adams on the basketball court, don’t try to get into his head. Your trash talk isn’t going to find an opening or even make a dent.
“As a 5’5” teenager, I’m often the shortest player on my team, which means I’m an easy target for dirty plays,” describes Maceo, a senior at Benedictine High School. “During a JV basketball game my sophomore year, I was being heckled all game by a player on the opposing team…I never responded. After the game he walked up to me. He shook my hand and said, ‘Good game.’ and stated how he uses mind games to get in his opponent’s head, and they usually end up getting frustrated and sparking a fight. He was impressed with my composure and how I continued to play hard and well despite the negative pressure.”
Maceo’s composure on the court, his work ethic, and his optimistic attitude toward challenges and adversity are just a few of the reasons he was awarded a PCA-Cleveland Triple-Impact Competitor® award.
Maceo, who throughout his youth has also participated in football and track and field, credits his positive attitude toward negativity to his mother, who taught him the value of self-discipline and controlling his emotions on and off the court. “I’ve been fouled hard, tackled dirty, and run out of my lane in track. In all of these incidents, I never lost my cool.”
“He was always that kid who was a little undersized but never let that deter him from getting better or competing over the years,” says Mac Stephens, who has been a coach and mentor in Maceo’s life since he was 5-years-old. “When he reached his teenage years he always worked extra hard to get better as an athlete. Often times he would train outside of our normal practice times when he played AAU basketball for me because he wanted to improve his game.”
Another former coach of Maceo’s, Javier Collins, agrees, “Oftentimes in the offseason, Maceo would be the first on in the gym and the last one to leave. He sets the standard for all competitors.”
Maceo’s commitment to getting better extended well beyond himself to his teammates. During one particular basketball season, he found himself mentoring a teammate who was struggling. “Many of my other teammates started to talk bad about him, even going on that he didn’t deserve to be on the team.”
Maceo took it upon himself to invite the teammate to his house where they’d do drills together and he’d help him work on his rebounding and review plays with him. Reflecting back on the situation, Maceo says, “Not everyone does well under pressure, so it’s important to lead people in a way that makes them feel as little stress as possible so that they can execute the plays. Over the season, he improved, his confidence grew, and he became a great center. Just by being his friend, a good teammate, and sharing what I knew, I helped him…and because I took time to help him, I also helped myself and my whole team. We grew closer together and everyone started to help each other improve instead of talking negatively or mocking someone for not being as talented as someone else.”
In addition to Maceo’s coaches, Chris Lorber, Athletic Director at Benedictine, acknowledges Maceo’s ability to engage and support his teammates during the time he participated in sports at the high school. “He represented all that a coach, administrator, and institution would ask out of a student-athlete such as teamwork, integrity, sportsmanship, and respect. He would make his teammates better by his positive attitude, work ethic, and on court/field leadership.”
Collins adds, “His ability to connect with his teammates and other members of the community are none like I have ever seen. He has a tireless work ethic when it comes to his craft but even that is outmatched by his ability to support his teammates. For example, when holding group workout sessions, Maceo on several occasions would rather assist younger student athletes with their development than work on his craft. This is not only a selfless act but it is also something that makes Maceo a great teammate, leader, and contributor not only to the game of basketball but to the ‘game’ of life as well.”
And Maceo has certainly carried his attitude and work ethic into his life outside the lines. A resident of Euclid, he’s been an active member of his high school community, participating in multiple clubs and activities, and has often lead student tours at the school’s annual open houses. He carries over a 3.0 cumulative GPA and will be attending Ohio University next fall.
Maceo, who will be attending Ohio University this fall, is inspiring to those who know him, watched and helped him develop as an athlete and as a person. Coach and mentor, Mac Stephens, sums up his impression of Maceo by stating, “He is a great kid being raised by a single mom,” and despite the challenging circumstances under which he’s grown up, “he has grown into a great young man. I wish I could clone young men like Maceo because he gets it!”
North Olmsted High School
Getting the big picture
When she’s not on the mound or at the plate, or competing on the basketball or volleyball courts, Mary Fuerst is working hard in the classroom and in her community and carries over the lessons learned in competition to other aspects of her life.
“Mary honors the game by remembering that it is a game,” says Ken Marquard, a Youth Minister at St. Brendan Church in North Olmsted that has worked with Mary for several years. “She says that winning is great, but the game is about building relationships, learning social skills, and realizing who you are. She goes into every game enthusiastically, and realizes that not every call is going to go your way. Instead of getting frustrated, she adjusts to the situation, providing an example for her teammates. Mary has a very positive attitude. She believes that the overall experience of softball will guide and define you if you remember to enjoy the wins, learn from the losses and accept the things you cannot control.”
Mary’s head softball coach, John Wadas, agrees. “Mary is one of the hardest working individuals I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Whether it was on the softball field or in the classroom, Mary strived to be the best possible person she could be. In school, Mary always arrived early to seek additional help and understanding. In softball, Mary was always the first person at practice and the last to leave. She was always willing to lend a hand or help a younger player work on things.”
“Mary is a natural leader.”
Those leadership skills and her commitment to make herself better, help her teammates get better, and ultimately make her sports better are all qualities that earned her the Positive Coaching Alliance – Cleveland Triple-Impact Competitor® Scholarship award.
Cassandra Gaye, another of Fuerst’s coaches reiterates, “Mary’s hard work, determination and heart make her an intangible player in our program. As an individual, she is constantly striving for something more on and off the field. She is someone that is extremely open minded and willing to lend a hand to anyone in need. She is someone that trusts the process and works hard day in and day out, knowing that her hard work will pay off.”
In Mary’s own words, she highlights the physical and mental dedication it takes to develop as an athlete and a person. “To improve as an athlete, I play multiple sports. This means I have very little free time. I have to manage my time, prior plan and always be prepared. I play basketball to improve my agility and stamina, while softball improves my hand eye coordination and strength. Mentally, I begin each week by reading an article that talks about mental toughness and every day. I find a quote that is inspirational to motivate me to achieve my best. Maintaining good grades helps me to explore and research different strategies and theories that will improve my game. When I put it all together it makes me a better athletic and person.”
Mary invests the same level of focus and commitment to her teammates, whether staying late after practice to help a teammate slumping at the plate, sending motivational texts to her team every day, coordinating team bonding events, or driving teammates to and from games and practices. Wadas adds, “Her teammates adore her and respect her greatly. When she talks, they respond. Her actions motivate others to be better. She never settles for mediocrity.”
Her volleyball coach, Claudia Botoulas also shares, “She made sure she played her best to set the example and during practices she stayed later to work on her hitting or setting. No one told her to do so…she just thought she needed it…soon after the other teammates started to join her. She utilized the opportunity to not only share her passion for improvement but she helped her teammates to realize that they are team and outcome depends from all of them as one unit!”
Perhaps Mary’s impact on her teammates, coaches, and the sports in which she participates are best summed up by Mary when she states, “I honor the game by remembering it is a game. Winning is great but the game is about building relationships, learning social skills and realizing who you are. I go into every game with a smile on my face and my goal is to leave the game with a smile.”
“What is important about the game is that you are in a moment...a moment that you might or might not remember in ten years but the overall experience…will guide and define you if you remember to enjoy the wins, learn from the losses and accept the things you cannot control.”
Bay High School
Competing with class and character
Whether shooting hoops in the freezing rain, or hitting the batting cages or driving range on an off day, Jack Lee believes that “The mark of a great athlete is to still be working on their craft when nobody else would ever want to.”
This attitude is one of the many reasons Lee is one of five local student-athletes that have been awarded a PCA-Cleveland Triple-Impact Competitor® Scholarship, which recognizes outstanding commitment to making oneself, teammates, and one’s game better.
Lee’s coaches recognize his dedication to improving himself. “He works very hard on his craft no matter what it may be,” says Jared Shetzer, basketball coach at Bay High School. “Jack is a multi-sport athlete who participates in Golf, Basketball, and Baseball. He spends a lot of time in the offseason working on his game and is one of the best golfers on the golf team, a contributor on the basketball team, and a competitor on the baseball team.”
Ben Boka, the school’s baseball coach shares, “Jack also knows that what he can do to help make the team better is to be the best player that he can. Therefore, Jack takes practice as serious as games, always trying to improve his skills. He is coachable. Jack gives his coaches, including myself, the respect when we instruct by genuinely trying what we ask of him to become better. His approach and resolve to become better is an inherent trait.”
His golf coach, Rick Mandarine, adds, “He portrays the utmost class, respect and honor that are so often missing from high school athletics.”
That class and respect for the game were on full display during a tournament in which Jack competed the summer before his junior year. “I was playing very well on the day and was on the second to last hole when I hooked my drive out of bounds. This resulted in a re-tee and another drive that hit the fairway but was already my third shot,” explains Jack. “My playing partner forgot that I had hit my first ball out of bounds and wrote down a birdie 3 on the scorecard. After the round was over, I beat him by one stroke.”
Instead of allowing the mistake to pass, and taking the round, Jack demonstrated tremendous respect for the rules, his opponent, and himself. “When we turned in our cards I realized he made the mistake and fixed the card for him. Although this caused me to shoot two strokes higher and be passed up by a fellow competitor, it was following the rules.”
This respect doesn’t go unnoticed by his teammates as well. “Golf is a gentleman’s game that requires honor and respect for the course and opponents,” says one of his teammates, Connor Flynn. “When I think of a character that honors the game and his competitors, I immediately think of Jack. Every time we play, Jack makes sure to repair is ball marks to keep the course in the pristine condition we found it in. Along with respecting the course, Jack likes to make small talk with opponents during matches.”
That respect and honor also carry over into other aspects of Jack’s life.
In addition to being a three-sport athlete, Jack participates in programs such as the Youth Philanthropy Fellowship Program, Young Life, the National Honor Society, and is very involved with his church.
Mandarine explains, “Jack is active in all levels within the school and community. He unselfishly goes out of his way to help everyone, whether he knows them or not. Jack refuses to take the easy way out, even though his plate is over flowing with a multitude of extra-curricular activities.”
In addition to being a Triple-Impact Competitor® Scholarship winner, Jack was recently named a Wendy’s High School Heisman in the fall, an honor given to student athletes for giving back to their communities, treating people with respect, continuing education, and excelling on the athletic field.
Brunswick High School
Making waves in the pool and in the classroom
As a record-setting All-Ohio and All-American swimmer, Cassandra Pasadyn, who will be attending Harvard University in the fall, is as powerful a force in the pool, in the locker room, and in the classroom, and one of five winners of a PCA-Cleveland Triple-Impact Competitor® Scholarship.
In addition to being one of the most decorated swimmers in the history of her school, Cassandra is also a 4.0 student, ranked at the top of her class, and a leader that her teammates and classmates want to follow. Alicia Mayer, a teacher at Brunswick High School talks about her experience having Pasadyn in her AP US History Course: “She shows great leadership by example every day in the classroom whether she’s the first to answer a difficult question or the individual who rallies the troops on a tough day! I am so impressed with her level of maturity, strong work ethic, and positive persona. She truly is one of the greatest students I have ever had and she not only made me want to be a better and stronger teacher, but her classmates were stronger students because they too wanted to emulate her success. She does everything with the utmost integrity and everything she is a part of she makes better!”
Mayer adds, “When I ran collegiate track and field I had many teammates, and often times as a teacher the students remind you of people that you use to spend countless meets and practices with. Cassandra is a teammate I wish I had.”
Her teammates agree. “Cassandra Pasadyn is without a doubt the most motivated, dedicated, and genuine person I have ever met,” says Jenna Vance, one of Pasadyn’s swim teammates. “Cassandra has been a key example of dedication, unity, positivity, and respect, which are the four pillars that our team rests on. As a team captain, Cassandra took the leadership in creating a system which further implemented the importance of these pillars, and in turn bettered the team by making a more sportsmanlike atmosphere for all of the teammates to benefit from. Cassandra has always wanted her teammates to get better just as much as she wanted to improve herself, and she was always ecstatic when her teammates achieved their goals, even when that achievement resulted in her loss of a school record.”
The system to which Vance refers is called the “DURP Award”, which Pasadyn created to recognize teammates for upholding the four key pillars of their team culture: Dedication, Unity, Respect, and Positivity. When a teammate demonstrates one of the pillars to an exceptional degree, they are given a “DURP” card. The teammate who acquires the most cards by the end of the season receives the team’s DURP Award.
Pasadyn explains that, “Learning to rejoice in the success of others, while accepting that you may not always be on top, are important life lessons that will carry me far beyond the confines of a pool deck.”
Erin Crabtree, Pasadyn’s swim coach adds, “Cassandra’s ability to lead her teammates both in and out of the pool through her voice and actions in the classroom and in her work ethic in the pool are only in comparison to an elite few I’ve had the pleasure of coaching over the past 15 years. Finally, Cassandra has made the sport better with her high academic and athletic achievements to encompass what it truly means to be a student-athlete as well as having amazing sportsmanship and respect to her teammates, competitors, officials, spectators and coaches. Cassandra is an amazingly talented young lady who is not just naturally gifted, but puts forth 110% into everything she does and does it with poise, gratitude towards others and grace.”
Norwalk High School
Fighting through adversity for herself and her teammates
During her junior year in high school, Mya Ray experienced an injury that would change the course of her athletic career and her role as a team captain and leader.
“About three-fourths of the way through my basketball season, I was injured during a tough game with an MCL tear,” Ray explains. “I was a starter, and team captain, so not being able to play or practice for three weeks was definitely hard…and it changed the dynamic of our team.”
Jennifer Swartz, Mya’s coach describes Mya’s response to her injury. “Mya is a perfectionist and a young lady of high character. She is known by her teammates and coaches as someone who ‘does the right thing.’ Mya suffered a knee injury…forcing her to miss several games. While she clearly would have rather been playing, Mya was the ultimate teammate. She continued to attend practice daily, and her positivity and encouragement of her teammates was nothing short of outstanding.”
For her commitment to making herself, her teammates, and her sports better, and to being an “ultimate teammate”, Ray was awarded a PCA-Cleveland Triple-Impact Competitor® Scholarship Award.
For example, during her rehabilitation during her injury, Ray focused a lot of her encouragement and energy toward her teammate that stepped up to fill her role at the end of the season. “I knew from being a [substitute] post player in the past, it is very difficult to give what is expected and make less mistakes. While I was out, I made it a point to help her and my other teammates. I gave her advice on post moves and her overall game. I wanted her to establish herself as a post and a basketball player. Whenever she scored a basket, I become extremely proud of her.”
Overcoming adversity, and her commitment to making herself and her teammates better in the face of those challenges, is nothing new for Ray, as Swartz shares: “As an individual player, Mya has overcome tremendous obstacles. As a seventh grader, she was cut from the girls’ basketball team…However, instead of sulking and responding negatively, Mya worked even harder on her skills, choosing to go back out for the team as an eighth grader. Her perseverance was rewarded, earning her a spot on the team. Most recently, Mya has been a two-year starter on the Junior Varsity girls’ basketball team and was also chosen as a team captain. Her drive and dedication to make herself a better player is an inspiration to girls throughout our basketball program.”
“These past two years in basketball, she has always done her best to push her teammates to do and be the best they can be because she wants to see them succeed just as much as she wants herself to succeed,” Caila Case, one of Ray’s teammates says. “Through the setbacks of personal problems she has encountered, including family loses and an injury to her knee she has always pushed through and gave her all in any practice or game.”
Her dedication and leadership are also apparent in her work in the classroom and other sports. Chris Higgins, Ray’s tennis coach shares, “As her tennis coach, I have seen her learn a lot as time has gone along. Mya is always competitive, but polite, within the rules of the game. Her level of sportsmanship is extremely high. Her personal mastery of the sport of tennis takes place during the summer when she is constantly outside practicing. As a member of the JV team, Mya was our leader that was always willing to let other girls know when they cross the line of sportsmanship. Finally, she makes the sport better by competing and remaining such a fine young lady on and off the court.”
Tiffany Chandler, a teacher in the Science Department at Norwalk agrees. “She is able to be an effective member of every group she is a part. She communicates effectively, contributes ideas and is willing to do her share, and more, of the work involved. She is able to maintain focus in the lab and helps to keep her coworkers on-task as well. Leadership and working with others comes naturally to her.
She understands that one person has the ability to make a difference and can make the world a better place…She is hard-working, dependable, and an effective time manager. She works well in a team setting as well as independently...I believe that her self-motivation, academic abilities and attention to detail will be a great asset to her success…the lessons she has learned in the classroom and as well as on the court have helped prepare her for this next step in life.
Ray will take that next step and continue her academic career at Ohio Northern University this fall.