Sophomore Star Wins ECCs


Photo Credits to Wendy Morris

Isabella Kimball

When someone says they do cross country or track, the response usually is “Why would you want to run for fun?” or “Who wants to run for miles and miles every day?” Well, 14 year old Avery Maiese, a sophomore cross country and track runner, does just that. Ever since she was young, she has loved running. She played soccer for many years, and says that it helped her realize she really loved to run. She started running as a sport in 8th grade for outdoor track. Because of her experience and familiarity from soccer, she absolutely loved how she felt while running. 

During freshman year Avery started to realize she was separating from the pack. While other runners were struggling to reach their expected times, Avery was getting faster, hitting new PR’s every race. She talked about this experience, and how she felt when this became clearer to her. “I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to get better.” Feeling like an outlier in the beginning years of high school can be nerve racking for many people, but Avery has developed a healthy support system around her. “The coaches and upperclassmen always give me good advice. They’re always rooting for me and pushing me to try harder.” 

Coach Gamble, a teacher and coach at Waterford High School, has been coaching Avery since her freshman year. “I saw her potential immediately.” The track team had an invitational at Old Saybrook last year. The rainy and cold weather was not the ideal condition for running. Despite this, Avery ran with no hesitation, and did quite well. “It didn’t phase her,” Gamble says. Gamble spoke about Avery and how she performs as a student and an athlete. “In both aspects, she is very disciplined and focused. I taught her last year, and she approaches running like she does school.” Avery has shown tremendous growth as a student and an athlete in her two years of being at Waterford High School. It is very common for stellar student athletes to get caught up in the atmosphere of those achievements. Students can become cocky and see themselves as above the others because of a talent they possess. Avery is the opposite of this. “Her humility and humble nature is, first and foremost, one of her strongest qualities,” Gamble says. It is refreshing to have an outstanding athlete that understands their potential, but does not make a scene of it.

Coach Gamble is one of the head coaches of the Waterford Cross Country team, with Coach Criscuolo and Coach Waz. Coach Gamble was excited to see that Avery had made the decision to join the cross country team, and switch over from her many years of playing soccer. “We clearly saw her potential, but [we] wanted her to come to the decision herself.” Since that decision was made, Avery’s successes in Cross Country have been outstanding. The ECC race is always something that gives a runner the jitters. Avery talked about how on paper, she was seeded to do well, so the pressure was definitely on. She started the race ahead of everyone, not knowing how the other runners would show up at the finish line. Always thinking that someone might pass her, she tried to stay calm, hoping for the best. In the end, Avery won the ECC Championship. Avery is the first person in 30 years from Waterford to win the ECC Championship. This win was astounding, and students from the cross country team and Waterford are so proud of Avery for her massive win. After finalizing her win at ECC’s, Avery made her way to states. At States, she placed 8th, and went to State Opens. At State Opens, she placed 14th all around, winning her a spot to go to New Englands. Unfortunately at New Englands, because of a muddy track, Avery hurt her ankle. However, she overcame this struggle, and finished 100th. Her perseverance and determination are some of her best qualities. 

Avery believes that academics come before athletics. “I’ll find a way to run in college, but academics are definitely more of a priority.” In the future, she would like to study architecture in college. Waterford High School is lucky to have such an outstanding runner and student at our school.