Scholar Athlete of the Week By Tyler Michaels
AVERILL PARK – This week’s Scholar Athlete is Alex Heap. Alex ran for the cross country team for the first time this year after running by himself for over a year. Alex began running during quarantine because he quickly found that he needed something to help keep him going. Alex needed another outlet; he did not have weights to lift, he could not play games with anybody during the pandemic, but Alex had a pair of sneakers and a road to run on. Alex says his favorite part about his sport is that it gives him a time in the day to relax. “When going on a run, I can clear my mind and just focus on what I’m doing and where I’m going. It’s almost meditative in that way.” Alex also said that he likes how good running made him feel. “Running is something self directed that I can do and improves my mental and physical health immensely. I was probably in the best shape I’d been in months during Cross Country Season.” Alex said the most difficult part about his sport is that it drove him to keep improving. Alex worked extremely hard, and while it was good he was still sore. Alex prepared over the summer by running as much as he could, and he soon discovered that drinking plenty of water and eating well were important to his progress in his sport. Alex was proud to see his improvement this year, and hopes to continue improving himself during the rest of his senior year.
In addition to his clear improvement athletically, Alex is academically successful. Alex has a 4.0 GPA while taking four Advanced Placement classes: AP Government and Politics, AP English 12, AP Studio Independent Study, and AP Calc. Alex is a member of the National Honor Society, and in his free time Alex is heavily involved in Averill Park’s Off-Broadway Players and in Boy Scouts. Alex is very passionate about visual arts. Alex never realized how difficult it is for scholar athletes to balance their time until he joined cross country this year, and now has much less time to relax. However, Alex prioritized his school work and athletics, and discovered he was able to keep his grades up well.
Alex says that he is inspired to work hard and make the best out of the current situation. This year brought Alex an opportunity to work on his mental and physical health, and Alex rose to the challenge. Alex also said that the supportive nature of cross country was a welcome surprise. Alex experienced a leg injury during the season, but even with this ailment Alex felt that the team supported him and never made him feel bad. Alex would advise younger athletes to “work at your own level, trying to keep up with the front of the pack won’t help anyone if you’re torturing yourself to do it. If you stick to your pace and work hard, you will see improvement.” We wish Alex the best as he finishes his senior year and prepares for college.