The Life We
All Took for Granted
Even though I am wrapping up my junior year of high school, COVID-19 has taught me not to take my senior year for granted. Through all of this crazy pandemic, many people have failed to realize the true impact this has on seniors. I have many friends that are currently seniors and they had the year stripped away from them.
I also have a brother who is a senior. Right now, so many things are up in the air for him. Will he have the typical graduation? How about prom? His track season is certainly over now. The last months of his senior year just went away and any of those things that a normal senior experiences faded, too. Watching it from a little sister's perspective, I can't help but think, "What if that happens to me next year?"
I know that we've done a lot for the seniors by seeking ways to get them graduation and prom, but it is still not certain any of those dates will work out and they don't get to have it the way that everyone else before them did. These alternative plans speak volumes for our school district. They are trying to make it right when they really didn't have to do anything except cancel it all like many schools across America already have.
It’s amazing what we can do, as a school community, but we all know deep down that it's not the same. To watch all of my friends and my brother have to go through this situation is really hard sometimes, but I have noticed that they are very strong kids.
One of the hardest parts has been watching my parents struggle with not knowing what to do. Seeing them struggle with what to tell my brother is difficult. This was so unexpected and took my parents (and everyone else) off guard. No one expected that when the seniors left the building before spring break, it would be their final goodbyes to WHS.
I think we forget about what this does to everyone of all ages. I know we've brought awareness to the senior class by posting tributes online and being supportive of them through their frustrations, but think about the parents who no longer get to take their kids' prom pictures. How about the ones who don't get to take a picture of their kid walking across the stage to get their diploma? My mom gets no more track pictures of my brother who was just 3 inches away from breaking the school record in the long jump. It's more than the photos, it's the traditional high school memories that are not being made.
I know that it's hard on the kids (because I am one), but I'm just saying, it has to be hard for the people who have watched us grow up our entire lives. Not getting to see us accomplish goals that we've worked so hard for has to be painful for them, too.
Overall, I have a lot of expectations for my senior year. I have a lot of goals and hopes. Knowing that this could all happen again, is very scary and makes me very nervous about my future. Will I be the kid that doesn't get to experience a traditional senior year? Will the Class of 2021 become a meme or t-shirt design like the Class of 2020? These are serious thoughts to ponder!
However, I refuse to let that fear control my life. I'm still going to live it to my fullest potential every day regardless of the circumstances.
Until Next Time Blue Jays,
My First Trip to Astral Glass
Astral Glass is a glass studio and gallery located in New Haven, Mo. I found myself there on a sunny Wednesday afternoon. With their hours being from 10-5 Wednesday through Sunday, my time was limited, but it was worth missing a little time at school.
I automatically loved the little quaint shop because when I hit the door a bell rang and I was greeted by a cute Collie dog at the door. What says welcome more than that!? After a friendly exchange of hello’s with the owners and the dog, I began looking around the store since I’ve never been before. I saw everything from glass figurines to paintings by local artists and glass jewelry. According to their business card, they do hand-blown glass, glass jewelry, fused glass, stained glass and offer free glass blowing demonstrations. That's a lot of glass!
Throughout the store they had different things such as glass animals like an eagle and a trout to simple, yet beautiful glass beaded necklaces. All the things there are handmade by the artists. That's the coolest part to me! You get to meet the artist and see their artwork.
My favorite thing by far I found there was this simple, but stunning, paper weight. While incased in solid glass, it held streaks of ocean blue, aqua flecks and a green swirl in the center. Throughout the whole weight, were tiny teal flecks that reminded me of a crystal ball.
My trip to Astral Glass was well worth my time and drive. If you’re interested in visiting Astral Glass, they are located at 133 Front Street in downtown New Haven, Mo. You can contact them at 573-237-5159 or email them at email@example.com if you have any questions. They are also on Facebook, too. I hope you choose to visit them sometime soon, you won’t regret it!
Don't Just Exist, LIVE!
My Tips for a Better High School Experience
#1. You don’t have to be part of the “in” crowd.
Be the flamingo in the pack of pigeons; chances are those other birds are jealous that you have the courage to be who you are without worrying about the acceptance of your peers.
If I tried to be a part of the so-called popular group of kids, I wouldn't be true to myself and I wouldn’t be happy. High school goes by so fast when you are happy and so slow when you are not. Don’t force your years to drag out for the popular vote. Be who you feel most comfortable being, with or without approval.
Chances are, who you are rocks so much more than that fake version!
#2. Task risks.
If I never took the risk of signing up for wrestling, I wouldn’t have any of the athletic success I have now. This sport has helped so much with my confidence levels and has really helped to improve my self-worth.
If I never took the risk of applying for, being accepted, and then enrolling in Blue Jay Journal TV, I wouldn’t currently be enrolled in my favorite class. It has became my favorite hour during the school day!
Risks aren’t always bad. It’s the fear of new things that always stop us from attempting new things when in reality they can sometimes make us the happiest we have ever been.
#3. Friends change, and that’s okay.
I definitely don’t have the same friends now during my junior year that I did my freshman year. However, it’s not that we’re angry or had fights, we just went down different paths.
It was hard to realize one day that I was not friends with a person I used to be around a lot anymore. When I had that moment, I just sat back and thought of the entire girls wrestling team, my BJJTV staff members that I love, my AP class friends that I have made, and suddenly I felt better.
I also know that my old friends are happy with their new friends, which makes me happy for them.
#4. Become comfortable in your own skin.
I spent so long trying to be comfortable in my friends' skins, or in my mom’s wishes or what my dad thought would be best for me in high school, that I never stopped and thought, "What will make me; me?"
For me, it was wrestling and I guess that’s why I talk about it so much. It has brought me so much joy and success and happiness that when I talk about it I can’t help but smile. It truly has transformed me into the best version of myself.
#5. Own the now.
If you own the current situation, you will not only radiate confidence, but will be happy with whatever your doing because you’re in control of your life!
Every time we do something, we have the option to take control and live through it the way we want, or to merely go through the motions making no decisions. By owning our choices, it gives us a better experience.
#6. Document the time.
If you don’t document the memories of your high school years, you need to start NOW. I’m not always the best at this because I forget, but when you take pictures or videos, or even write things down, you can find them one day and reminisce about all the amazingly funny things you forgot about over time. This also will give your future kids evidence they had a cool mom or dad.
#7. Be engaged.
Like I said earlier, if you aren’t engaged, your life will literally just go right past you while you're zoned out. Also, time passes a lot slower when you aren’t having fun, so have fun and act a fool while you can! Be in the moment and plugged into what is happening around you.
#8. It’s okay to struggle.
Struggle is one of those words that you hear and your body just shutters. Somehow that word triggers certain memories that you have locked up somewhere deep down inside, but you remember them every time you hear that word. However, you have lived through those struggles and now are reading my blog, so congratulations!
One of my biggest issues through high school was struggling with my running career and I still do every now and then. I’m okay to admit that I was/am struggling with running.
On a side note, it's made me so much stronger as a person, an athlete, a competitor and as a young adult. Struggling has taught me that even though right now it stinks, I have to "suck it up and fix my ponytail, sweetheart," because "no one will make life easier for me as I get older."
#9. Laugh literally every single day.
A day without laughter is a day wasted. If you don’t laugh at least once a day something needs to change! Every day on earth is a day to better yourself or even make another person laugh. There isn’t literally one person on this earth that doesn’t deserve to laugh once a day. Try to be the reason someone does today!
#10. Never look back with regret.
Go all in and see where life can take you. It’s a wild ride but worth every second if you do it right. Now, it’s up to you.
Allison in Five Words
Honestly, is there a better word out there to describe any teenage girl? I’m definitely sassy and anyone I know can testify to this because this is typically the first word people use to describe me.
I am not sassy to the point where I'm disrespectful, but I don’t shy away when it comes to telling people how I feel.
When it comes to being called sassy, I don’t take it negatively. I embrace it! You only live once, so why would I ever want to change who I am? Sass is something I have developed in my life by being the baby of the family with three older brothers ahead of me. I blame all my sassiness on them.
I am a very random person and my moods can change so fast. One minute I’ll be up dancing and singing, and the next I’ll be sitting still trying to figure out if Mike Wazowski from Monsters, Inc. winks or blinks. Sometimes I decide (out of nowhere) to clean my room in the middle of the night or I get random urges to paint a picture frame at 7 am.
There is absolutely no pattern to my randomness. I am a mix of "up and moving" and sitting still, very quiet, and not smiling. On that note, so many people ask me on a daily basis why I look so upset. My general response is, “What? Oh, that's just my face!”
My life is packed full of craziness from sunrise to sunset, and then some! Being involved in Cross Country, Girls Wrestling, Environmental Club, Blue Jay Journal TV, and AP classes, along with my family running the school's concession stands, I hardly sleep. With all those amazing things that keep me on my toes comes the unseen side effects that they cause, which includes less time for rest.
On top of those activities, I have to balance my friends, family, homework, animals, grades, and above all, my health!
Some days I wake up at 5:30 am and don’t get to sleep until about 1 am. My day is packed! I do wrestling weights at 6:30 am, go to school, run right after school, and then work the freshman and JV football games. By the time I’m home, I still have to pack my running bag for the next day and do homework.
Even though my days are long and busy, I wouldn’t change them for anything because it’s made me who I am. When I look back on my high school years, one thing I can say is that I’ve definitely learned time management!
I am very determined. If there is something I want, or there's a goal I want to achieve I will commit myself 110% until it’s accomplished.
The big reason why I run cross country is to stay in shape and help build lung strength for wrestling season. Cross country isn’t my main sport, but it helps keep me in competition shape and exercises my body on a daily basis.
With wrestling, I’m in the room for open mats every Sunday, and weights at 6:30 am everyday except Wednesdays and Fridays, because those are the mornings I have cross country.
If I care enough to make it a goal, I see it through to the best of my ability. Granted, I can’t do everything all the time, but if I have even a tiny chance to reach a goal, I am going to give it my all.
At wrestling districts I was ranked 5th, but I won my weight class and took first because Coach Ohm, my team, and my family believed in me. Their support only fueled my determination to succeed.
I am a very confident person and when people see that, they tend to follow my lead. A lot of coaches have told me I have a very demanding presence that requires everyone to look and listen. I get a lot group leadership roles because I’m so used to taking charge in team situations.
Many of underclassmen come to me to help them make choices they are unsure about because they see me as an older friend who has been in those situations before. I’ve also joined Link Crew at our school, which is a bunch of upperclassmen who help welcome and show around the new freshman the day before high school starts so they don’t feel so lost.
An Open Letter to Coach Olszowka
Dear Coach Olszowka,
I know it isn’t like me to share how I feel, but I should really do that more.
As an athlete that has ran for you for five years now, I feel I can be completely honest with you. We have had our ups and downs; we both know that. Some days have ended in tears or anger, but we always come back to the bond we have and put any differences aside. Lord knows that I'm not an easy person to deal with, but you do it everyday.
I know me switching from running to wrestling as my dominant sport may have put a damper on what you thought your top seven runners would be like, but yet you accepted it. You are now a huge supporter of my wrestling as well as running.
To me, you have always been more than just a coach. You are a mentor, friend, sounding board and a great advice giver. When I tell you I’m facing hard choices, you sit down with me and take the time to weigh both sides out to help me make the best choice. I know every time you give me advice, I don’t absorb it all immediately, but I take it into consideration when making difficult decisions.
I have met very few people that sacrifice as much family time as you do to help kids like me. I've never met a coach that cooks his athletes pancakes every Friday morning before a race. Yes, you may push us harder and expect more out of us than other cross country coaches, but at the end of the day they don’t really care as much as you do.
Honestly, for most coaches, it’s not hard to care for a runner's legs and tell them they did good. What's hard is waking up before 6:30am when you know your team needs you, and you have to make spreadsheets of mile times and breakdown sheets. It’s even harder when you make your athletes unhappy by doing pushes on the district course instead of their usual slow runs on Thursdays, but you do it anyway. You know deep down that’s what's going to make them better. You don't take the "easy path" when it comes to coaching, and that is why you get results!
You remind us to drink water, get sleep, stay caught up on homework, check our grades, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Little things like that matter to me and show me that you care about us and are invested in our lives. I think it says a lot about you as a coach.
I know I do a really bad job at telling you that I appreciate you and am thankful for you in my life. Thanks to all you put into coaching and into the program, I'm really lucky to have you as one of my coaches. From the hard mile repeats (where I swear up and down that I'm going to die if I have to keep running) to smell-the-flowers Thursdays (where we all laugh and joke about life), you have stuck by me.
Even though I’m close to starting down a different path, I will never forget all that you have done for me and all of our dumb jokes we make. As I look into colleges, when I seek out a program with a coach that I like, I'll definitely be referring back to your qualities. For right now though, I'm pretty content with the coach I've been given and I don’t want to take any time for granted. Three years have passed by faster than I expected them to. I have one more year left to make those cross country memories and you can bet I'm not going to waste it!
So get ready, Coach Olszowka, because my senior year is going to be the best yet!
With a Thankful Heart,
Allison's Travel Tips
During the 2018-2019 school year MHSAA (Missouri High School Athletic Association) decided to officially make girls wrestling a school-sanctioned sport. This is when I decided to embark upon my wrestling journey.
When I first heard of the girls team I thought it was insane, but then the head coach, Josh Ohm, who is also an assistant cross country coach approached me. Coach Ohm asked if I wanted to join, or would at least be interested in the sport. I said, "probably not."
Later that night, I talked to my three brothers about it. They told me that it would be too tough and it was probably best that I don’t do it. Despite their words and my initial reaction, I signed up in Coach Ohm's room the next day to try practices but did not make a solid commitment. I surprised myself when I officially joined three days later.
When I first started, our room was being remodeled, so off-season training was done in the band room with spare mats set down. At first, it was really bumpy and took a lot of patience to get even the simplest moves down. After the wrestling room got done, we were able to start having practices in there which was really neat since it was brand new. When school came around, I had to focus on my fall sport, cross country, but the week after that ended I was back in the wrestling room preparing for the actual season to start.
The first thing the wrestlers do is a mock tournament where they wrestle each other for varsity spots, which is considered to be our first matches of the season. This is called Black and Blue night. This was the first time I wrestled publicly and it was nerve-racking, but it was so rewarding. To see the coaches and other teammates get excited for you, it felt very welcoming from a new member's standpoint. After I won that match, I went on to finish the normal season with a 24-9 record and become a district champion for our class at the 116 lbs division. This then allowed me to go to state where I tied for 5th in the 116 lbs division.
In the off season, I’ve decided to continue my wrestling journey by joining a club team based in St. Louis. The team is called Valkyrie Wrestling, which is an all-girls team. With this team I was also able to make it on the Missouri Women’s team. This allows me to travel out of state to help represent team Missouri when we compete against other states in tournaments.
So far, I have earned six medals, one plaque, a district title, and about a thousand shirts! Nothing however, can take away from all the friends and memories I’ve made from this one sport alone. Wrestling has given me my confidence back and taught me that if this is who I choose to be, then I’m not standing alone. Who knew signing my name on a piece of loose-leaf paper could affect my life so much?
Dog mom of two.
Baby sister of three brothers.
Sassiest of all.
Dog mom of two.
Baby sister of three brothers.
Sassiest of all.