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Students in the Spotlight

By Christian Weaner

Kelsey Cessna, Senior

On the soccer field and the basketball court, Sandpoint High School (SHS) senior Kelsey Cessna has made a huge impact throughout her high school career.

Kelsey has contributed on four state tournament teams for the Bulldogs, earned multiple All-Inland Empire League (IEL) awards and been elected team captain in both sports. While the statistics and achievements are impressive, what matters most to Kelsey are the relationships she has built with her teammates and coaches.

Kelsey's athletic career at SHS got off to a remarkable start during her first two years playing for the Bulldogs, as she earned All-League awards in both sports and won a state championship in soccer during her freshman season.

Then, in December of her sophomore year, she tore her ACL and MCL.

"That was definitely a blow to my ego and mental toughness," Kelsey remembered. "Not being able to play really made me rethink my purpose. Being an athlete has always been part of my identity. I had to decide that it still was and worked hard to come back."

Kelsey's injury was devastating, and the recovery process was long and challenging. But it was during this time away from the playing field that helped Kelsey grow as a leader.

"There were definitely ups and downs through that process, but I think that during my time off as a player I was able to grow in the vocal aspect of my leadership as well as the ability to persevere through tough times," she said.

During her senior soccer season this past fall, Kelsey was named one of the Bulldogs' team captains. Along with fellow captain Kimberly Yarnell, Kelsey set out to create a positive team culture on and off the field.

"We spent many hours together with team bonding outside of soccer," Kelsey said. "It really helped create the culture and made some great memories."

After Kelsey finishes up her senior basketball season and graduates in the spring, she plans to attend North Idaho College and pursue a degree in Outdoor Recreation Leadership.

In the future, whether she is leading a backpacking trip, whitewater rafting or planning an expedition, Kelsey will be able to use the leadership skills and perseverance she has learned in her time at SHS to help her succeed wherever she goes.

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