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Teen's drive comes from competing in sports

Caitlin Sears plays softball, volleyball and soccer and runs track, but she also holds a 3.8 grade point average.

By LOGAN NEILL

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 19, 2001


No doubt about it, Hernando High junior Caitlin Sears has a busy life. Up each day at 6:30 a.m., her day includes a full load of honors classes. After school, she heads to a three-hour track practice before diving into her homework.

And while Caitlin doesn't see herself as consumed by drive and ambition, she admits she doesn't like seeing a moment of her day go to waste if she can help it.

"I've always been the kind of person who likes to stay busy," she said. "Even when I don't really have anything to do, I kind of feel guilty. I need to be doing something constructive."

Which is why the 17-year-old so aptly earned her school's nomination for the Governor's All-Star high school junior achievement award in February. Though she just missed out winning the county-wide honor, (which went to Springstead High junior Joey Fiero), being recognized for her academic talent, leadership skills and community involvement left the teen humbled.

"It made me proud that my teachers thought enough to recommend me, especially when there are so many people here at the school who probably deserved it, too," she said.

But Hernando High assistant principal Jane Padgett said Caitlin's award was well-earned. She holds a 3.8 grade point average while playing four varsity sports. Outside of school, Caitlin devotes several hours each week coaching an under-8 girls softball team in the Hernando Youth League.

"As far as I'm concerned, being involved in sports really helped me become a motivated person," she said. "One of the things I try to teach the girls I'm coaching, is that being on a team is a good way to learn responsibility to yourself and others. You've got to give it everything in order to win."

While Caitlin also enjoys being involved in school organizations such as the Beta Club and National Honor Society, she admits her love for sports has always been a major driving force in her life.

For as long as she can remember she's been involved in everything from swimming and dancing to team sports.

One of her biggest thrills on the field came two years ago, when she was a member of the Brooksville Dixie Belles softball squad that went to regional playoffs, and then captured the Dixie League World Series championship.

"It was the best feeling because we were the underdogs. We played our hearts out and beat a team that no one thought we would," she said.

This year has been non-stop for Caitlin, who has divided her time between varsity softball, volleyball, soccer -- and for the first time ever, track.

"Being able to compete has always been important to me," she said. "Even when I lose, I learned something, that I have to accept it and work harder to be better next time."

* * *

NAME: Caitlin Sears

AGE: 17

SCHOOL: Hernando High

PARENTS: Curt and Laura Sears

FAVORITE SUBJECT: Art

HOBBIES: Sports

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