Athlete of the Month: Natalie Mannion
By Ameena Dye
Photo by Brittany Beehner
Four hundred meters. One lap. It may not seem like much, that anyone can run it, but not many can run it in less than 65 seconds. Senior Natalie Mannion can."She's extremely fast," says junior and soccer teammate Monica Piccolo, in a bit of an understatement.
By the time Mannion graduates from Jamesville-DeWitt High School in June, she could be a part of at least four school records with a fifth also in her reach. Since her sophomore year she has been a member of the 200-meter relay for indoor track, and the 100-meter relay and 400-meter relay in outdoor track , which have all set new school records. As an individual she also holds the outdoor track record for the long jump, which she set her junior year, with a jump of 16 feet 3 inches.
"You might never be able to tell by looking at her, but Natalie is one of the toughest competitors you will ever meet," says Bill Leberman coach for both indoor and outdoor track teams. Leberman has coached Mannion since her freshmen year on varsity track. "She works extremely hard in practice everyday and when she gets into competition, she is very determined and never gives up."
An example of this is during this indoor track season when she attempted the triple jump for the first time. Through her hard work she won sectionals with a jump of 34 feet 3 inches. Coach Leberman says that if Natalie keeps improving in the triple jump during outdoor this season, she could possibly hold a fifth school record.
Mannion started running track in seventh grade on the modified team and by the end of outdoor track this year she will have eight varsity letters in the sport.
"I'd always been told I was pretty fast and I liked the competitive spirit of racing," says Mannion. She says that it is a difficult sport and it is hard to make yourself run at times, but being able to push through the difficulty of the sport makes it worthwhile. She says that the feeling after a good race is when she knows that the time and dedication has paid off, and that is why she runs.
Mannion's younger sister Stephanie, a sophomore, says that Natalie is determined. "She has a really strong work ethic," says Stephanie. Natalie agrees that she is motivated to be the best she can be, no matter what.
This motivation reflects in her academic life also. "I strive to be the best I can in school. School work always comes first," says Mannion. Besides taking three Advanced Placement classes this year, Mannion has made honor role every marking period so far her senior year. Mannion says that her strong point is foreign languages. She takes both French and Spanish. J-DHS French teacher Joan Hession says that Mannion is an all around "lovely young lady." Mme. Hession advises both French Club and National French Honor's society, of which Mannion is an officer.
Running and school, both individual things, are not only what Mannion excels in. She also has been a member of J-DHS's Varsity Girls Soccer team since her sophomore year.
Coach Haley Nies agrees that Mannion is a hard worker and also a team player. "She's the type of player you would want on a team," says Nies. She also mentions that Mannion does more than necessary when it comes to games. For example, if someone else is having an off day, she will make up for them.
Soccer teammate Emily Nuss, a junior, and Piccolo both agree that Mannion is a great leader. Nuss says that Mannion is an especially good leader for underclassmen on the team but she doesn't need to be loud to lead. Piccolo agrees with Nuss saying that Mannion is a "silent leader," both on and off the field. "She wouldn't let any player by her without putting up a good fight," adds Nuss. "We could always count on her."