By Colin Anderson
Alia Schmitt, Senior
Photo By Jason Duchow Photography
Whether it’s in a competition or helping fire up the crowd on the sidelines, senior Alia Schmitt loves the feeling of satisfaction that comes with a routine well done. “The biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that you get out what you put in. If you want to make something great, you’ll have to put in the effort,” she explained.
That effort includes training all year, with practices before and after school. Alia and the rest of her team train just as other athletes at Sandpoint High School do. In fact, dance and spirit squad members training and practice often includes a wider range of activities than most other sports. On top of keeping up their endurance to complete lengthy and complex routines, dancers like Alia continually work on balance and flexibility, with the added skill of memorizing choreography and routines. As is the case in all sports, dance is a big commitment, and sometimes you just need to battle through adversity.
“The biggest challenge is how physically demanding it is and dealing with injuries during the season. You just kinda have to remind yourself why you do it and push through it,” said Alia.
Alia is planning on taking her love of dance and performance with her to the University of Idaho, where she wants to be a part of the school’s Spirit Squad. Once she has her bachelor’s degree from U of I, Alia wants to apply to medical school through the University of Washington. “I’m very interested in emergency or psychiatric medicine because I like the urgency of working in the ER, but I have always had an interest in mental disorders and treating them,” she said.
Until then, Alia will continue to cheer on her teams, pump up the crowd through high-energy routines, bring out Bulldog pride in the stands, and represent not only her school but her community as well at upcoming competitions.
Kate Bokowy, Senior
Farmers, ranchers, pastry chefs and baristas are all up before dawn, as is Sandpoint high school senior Kate Bokowy. Kate is no stranger to early mornings, as she’s been swimming competitively since the age of 5. “Swimming puts me in a good mood—even at 5am,” she said. “Lots of people don’t like a cold pool in the morning, but starting my day by diving into the water makes me happier for the rest of the day.”
During Kate’s junior year, her 200m medley and 400m freestyle relay teams both won state, and Kate was all ready to defend the title her senior year—until the world changed.
“This year forced me to reconsider why I swim, because we knew we wouldn’t get to go to state. Without this motivation, it became harder to put in my best effort every day,” she shared. “This changed once I heard that if we got a case (COVID), our practices would be canceled. I was upset by the uncertainty of the situation and how I might not know when my last practice was. This made me grateful for the practices we did have and for the moments I got to spend with my team, so I started treating every practice like it was my last.”
A virtual state tournament was eventually worked out, where teams stayed in their own pools and competed for time. The extra motivation turned out to be great for Kate. Her relay teams placed first and second, and she was able to set personal records in both of her individual events, finishing second in the 100m fly and 200m individual medley.
Even when the pool is closed, you’ll still find Kate swimming, sometimes in the frigid waters of Lake Pend Oreille. Despite having a busy schedule, she continues to cherish each moment with her team. “No matter how tired we are, my team does not want to waste those early hours. While cheering and seeing everyone’s hard work pay off is fun, the daily support that my team gives each other is an essential start to every good day.”
After graduation, Kate plans on earning a degree in electrical engineering. She first learned coding in the fifth grade, and the high school’s 3D design class has influenced this decision. Kate doesn’t plan on swimming competitively in college but will continue to hit the pool as often as she can.