Purchase Photo Reprint Weekly Herald/CHRIS GOODENOW
Edmonds School District seniors, Lynnwood's Jennifer Tsuji and Blake Lord (front row), Mountlake Terrace's Nina Penner and Stuart Milner (second row), Edmonds-Woodway's Megan Alfi and Justin Jolly (third row), and Meadowdale's Alisa Sagdahl (fourth row) were selected by the school district as athletes of the year.
It wasn't always smooth sailing for Megan Alfi and Justin Jolly during their athletic careers at Edmonds-Woodway High School.
Both suffered injuries that put them on the sidelines and required them to have physical therapy.
But because of their treatment, Alfi and Jolly both became interested in physical therapy as a possible career path.
Similar career interests isn't all these athletes have in common. Both were named Edmonds-Woodway's recipients of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association District 1 Cliff Gillies awards. The awards, named in honor of the former WIAA executive director, recognize students for their participation in student activities, academic achievement, sportsmanship and citizenship.
During her junior season of track, Alfi suffered from IT band syndrome, a leg injury due to chronic overuse. She missed several races during the regular season and was treated by a physical therapist. Alfi returned toward the end of the season.
Her first-hand treatment for her leg injury had a major impact on Alfi.
“My experience solidified knowing that's what I wanted to go into,” said Alfi, who competed in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races as well as cross country.
Alfi will be running cross country and track at Humbolt State University in Arcata, Calif. She plans to study kinesiology.
When she entered high school, Alfi also played soccer and basketball. But after her freshman year, Alfi decided to switch from soccer to cross country and to concentrate on running. She has never looked back.
“I really enjoy running,” Alfi said. “Runners are great people to be around. I made some of my best friends from my cross country team.”
The highlight of her senior year was at the district cross country championships. Alfi finished 18th and earned her first and only trip to the state meet.
“It was such an intense race,” Alfi said. “There was so much adrenaline. Everyone in that race knew that if they were not running fast enough, they were not going to make it to state, When I crossed the finish line and heard what place I got, I was so happy I made it.”
Competing at the state meet was a goal Alfi set for herself ever since she switched her focus to running.
Alfi has found that the best runners are those people who actually enjoy the act of running. They aren't just going through the motions.
“You just really have to like running,” she said. “I really enjoy running. Going out for a run by myself is something I like to do.”
Continuing her athletic career in college also was a goal of Alfi's.
“It was something I really would have liked to have done,” she said. “I'm glad the school thought I was a good fit on their team.”
So much of Alfi's life, from her friends to her schooling, has been influenced by running.
“It's really taught me to be more self-disciplined,” she said. “My whole life is different. I can't imagine what my life would be like if I didn't have running.”
No one could blame Justin Jolly if he was a little disappointed in his senior year as far as sports go.
Injuries cut short his football season and prevented him from playing much baseball.
Jolly, however, chooses to remember the positives, which include a successful season of swimming and a postseason appearance with the baseball team.
“Just being able to go to the state playoffs with the baseball team was something good that happened,” Jolly said.
He was also an alternate on the state 4-by-100 relay team for swimming.
Jolly's upbeat attitude and support for his teams despite his individual disappointments didn't go unnoticed by his coaches.
In addition to the Cliff Gillies award, Jolly along with Megan Alfi were honored as Edmonds-Woodway's scholars-athletes at last month's Edmonds School District Scholar-Athlete and Coach/Community Banquet.
“I didn't expect any of it,” Jolly said of the recognition. “Both of them caught me by surprise. It's really surreal.”
Jolly did his best to support his teammates and to work with the younger players when he was out with his injuries.
His string of unfortunate health issues started one week before his junior football season when Jolly tore his ACL and meniscus.
He recovered from those injuries to swim and play baseball later that school year.
But then disaster struck again in the late spring when Jolly broke his ankle during a football practice.
He was out until October and came back to play two games. During the second game, Jolly ended up developing compartment syndrome, a limb and life-threatening condition in which nerves, blood vessels and muscle are compressed in a closed space.
The next day Jolly had surgery, which ended his football season.
Jolly recovered and was able to swim during the winter. But an automobile accident reaggravated Jolly's ankle injury and hampered him in baseball. Jolly ended up playing in only a handful of games.
What did Jolly learn from his health struggles?
“I think the big lesson is just perseverance,” he said. “It doesn't do any good to be sulking about it, wishing you were out there. I learned to persevere and keep going. I knew one day I'd be healthy.”
Jolly is headed to the University of Washington and is looking to major both in physical therapy and Spanish.
The 10 months of physical therapy had quite an impact on Jolly.
“I realized it was something I really wanted to do,” Jolly said. “I want to help other people. I saw how physical therapy helped me out. I want to give back.”