By Colin Anderson
Quinn Hooper, Senior
By the age of 10, Sandpoint High School senior Quinn Hooper already had a pretty good idea of what she wanted to do when she grew up. Quinn helped take care of her grandmother, performing many of the tasks that an at-home nurse would do. She felt the impact her actions had and decided that would be her calling. A program within the high school, called Diversified Health Occupations, allowed Quinn to get started on her dream job even before graduating high school. “I have successfully completed the program, and now I am a certified nursing assistant,” she stated proudly.
Quinn will be attending Boise State University this fall and plans to further her medical career by earning a degree in nursing, eventually becoming a registered nurse (RN). “After I graduate college, I would like to be a travel nurse for a while and work across the country. I really enjoy traveling and experiencing new places,” she said.
But before Quinn moves forward in her professional life, she still has a few months left of senior year and a final season of track in which to compete. Quinn competed on both the cross-country and track teams all four years of high school and is honored to be one of five senior captains on the team this year. She ran a mile in 6:26, a 5k in 21:59, and was named a student of the month during her junior year.
Staying mentally focused is a major key in distance running, and Quinn admits it was something she struggled with. Last year at the regional meet, she set a goal of beating the fastest runner at Lakeland High School, promising herself not to give up and stay focused the entire race. “I saw the girl about a half mile from the finish, and I kicked it into gear and fought through the pain to help my team out,” she recalled. Quinn passed her on a steep downhill but slipped and fell in a rough patch of gravel. Still, she remained mentally tough and determined to achieve her goal. “I was all scraped up, but I didn’t let her catch up to me, and I finished as hard as I could. I could not have done that without knowing my team was racing for me like I was racing for them. I accomplished my placement goal and my personal goal of staying mentally tough.”
While Quinn’s competitive days will soon come to an end, she plans on staying active in intramural sports when she arrives on campus this fall. She’ll bring the lessons she’s learned in competition with her as she pursues the next chapter in life. “I have definitely learned that I have to work hard for what I want and be persistent. You can’t achieve your goals if you are inconsistent in sports and in life.”
Nikolai Braedt, Senior
One might think of distance running as the ultimate individual sport, but those who go through the Sandpoint High School track and cross-country programs know that’s simply not true. Coaches Matt and Angie Brass create a one-of-a-kind team, and those who have been a part of it can’t say enough about how it has impacted their lives. “It is a team effort to make this kind of community, and our coaches teach and give the team leaders skills to interact with new athletes while we make them feel at home. Ultimately, it creates a positive feedback loop that radiates throughout the whole team,” explained senior captain Nikolai Braedt.
Nikolai has been with the cross-country team since freshman year. He recalls being very excited to become a member, but before he could start competing he suffered a serious knee injury. While it provided a setback, the injury also showed Nikolai firsthand what the team was all about. “Every day as I was on the bike spinner instead of running, the team would run past and everyone would all encourage me. This kind of positivity and genuine care was something that I have never witnessed in other teams, and it encouraged me to fully commit to the sport,” he said.
His rehab and dedication to the sport was rewarded in the spring when he was able to compete in track and set the school record time for a freshman in the 1600m. The following year, Nikolai was named captain, and he discovered the joy in helping others find their confidence. Confidence was something Nikolai was also working on and recalls his first big race without teammates by his side, and the simple move coach Matt did that gave him a boost. “I was extremely nervous and was not feeling too confident. Matt decided to run my warmup with me and talk me through everything I needed to do. This small act completely changed my attitude toward the race and my confidence. I realize now that small acts like this one can change a person’s outlook drastically, and I strive to do the same to help benefit others.”
Nikolai will compete in his final season on the track team this spring. He holds many class records including the school record in the 5k at 15:35. Upon graduation he plans to enroll at the University of Hawaii in Hilo, where he plans to study marine biology. While the school doesn’t offer a track or cross-country team, Nikolai plans to continue to run and compete in half and full marathons on the islands.