DOWNEY – While many of America’s kids were on spring break seeking out sun and surf, a dedicated group gathered in the wintry heart of the country to test their competitive edge in short track speedskating. There were skaters of all ages ranging from about 7 to 75 years of age who came together for Age Group Nationals in St. Louis, Mo., on March 21-23. Stacy Caprilli, 18, a senior at Downey High School, was one of those many skaters who raced other girls in her age group.
One year ago, she was happy to attain the rank of 5th in the nation in the Junior B Ladies division. This time, skating in an older, faster group, the Junior A Ladies, she arrived excited and confident, but also nervous. She came to Nationals hoping to win something, and that she did handily.
She finished either 1st or 2nd in all her heats and semi-finals in order to qualify for the finals in every single distance, which include 500M, 1000M, 1500M, and 3000M. Over three consecutive days, she put in a solid, consistent performance through no fewer than 11 individual races and today claims the rank of third overall in the nation.
To take third overall and have the privilege of wearing the bronze medal on the podium, she did not know beforehand that she was going to do so well. This is be expected since she is now skating in a more challenging division. One thing that helped motivate her to this noteworthy achievement in race after race was being able to hear not only some of the crowd cheering for her by name, but especially her own parents Morris and Pat, who traveled with her to St. Louis. Hearing them cheer gave her the boost to push harder and skate faster.
Stacy’s favorite race was also the last one of the weekend, and the longest one skated in her division. She skated the 3000 (3,000 meters, or nearly 2 miles), which consists of 27 laps. A race like this is no jog in the park. She reports feeling tired and sore throughout the race, her legs burning and muscles getting tight and sore. With determination and will power, she pushed through the pain. Even with two long days of back-to-back competition leading up to this test of endurance, she feels she skated her best and captured third, very narrowly missing second place by a mere tenth of a second.
With Nationals behind her and graduation from Downey High School in a matter of months, Stacy is looking forward to attending Long Beach City College. She has her sights set on either medicine, pathology, or physical therapy. She is currently part of the Sports Med program in school and gets regular practice at football and lacrosse games and wrestling matches caring for sport-related injuries.
She loves this hands-on work of applying first aid, wrapping up sprained ankles, wrists, and shoulders, and stopping the bleeding. When she sees that players are in a state of panic because of their injuries, her calm demeanor helps them to also be calm. Her ambitions toward medicine or physical therapy are a good fit with her penchant for caring for others in pain. Part of her ambition is the desire to transfer to a top school along the way like UCLA.
And what of short track speedskating? Stacy also has hopes to be able to continue training and competing under LA-local world-renown coach Wilma Boomstra while in college. She says that school has to come first, and it will probably be tough to do both at the same time. Seeing how her determination in this extreme sport has propelled her from being a newcomer only a few years ago to being 3rd in the nation, we expect that she has the resolve to achieve any goals she sets for herself, and we also applaud her for that.
Published: April 10, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 52