Disappointed when she placed fourth in the high jump at the Class 1A state indoor championships last year, Kaitlin Isabell used it as motivation for the outdoor season that followed, where she won the state title.
So when the Sparrows Point girls soccer team was down a goal with seven minutes left in last Saturday's Class 1A state title game against Brunswick Isabell, a senior defender and captain, had no doubt her team would pull through. The Pointers scored twice before the final whistle to claim a thrilliing 2-1 win to earn the program's first state championship.
Isabell's senior year continues with another indoor track and field season, during which she plans to compete in six different events before doing the same in the outdoor season.
With a 3.5 grade point average, she's undecided on a college, but plans to continue her track and field career. In addition to the sports she plays at Sparrows Point, she also is president of the Math Club and is a member of Future Business Leaders of America. She would like to become a personal trainer and own her own gym.
What's it like being a senior captain on the soccer team that brought home the program's first state title?
It's amazing. I don't think we've realized it yet, but we made Sparrows Point history. This is the first time the Sparrows Point women's soccer program has won the state title. We've looked at the school's showcase and it shows the trophies of state finalists, but this time we have the championship trophy. It's a great feeling.
Still trailing 1-0 late in the title game, how did the team stay composed to pull out the win?
We never put our heads down. We thought it was a fluke goal they scored and we just started building each other up after that. We also knew this wasn't the first time we tried to make a comeback.
What did you learn about yourself and the team throughout the season?
We lost 11 seniors and had seven new starters, so it was very different. We learned how to work together. New players and new leaders came into the picture. I found myself in a new role because I was a senior and team captain and people were looking up to me. So I learned how important it was to stay strong and how important leadership is to a soccer team.
What makes a great captain and leader?
I really think it's important to keep your composure. You can't put your head down, you can't put people down and you have to be able to work with every single player on the team whether they're a starter or not.
What was the celebration like after the game?
In the locker room, the intensity was incredible. We had the music really loud and we were singing to it, we were talking to each other, and we were just so excited. There was not a single person that was left out in that room. We took pictures with the trophy, pitctures with the coaches and we did everything we should have done.
Did you share any special moments with your fellow captain Lauren Spivey after winning the state title?
Lauren gave a speech, a big thank you to everyone and it brought us all to tears. She started crying and just said they all made our senior year amazing. That was a special moment. It wasn't anything direct, but we just looked at each other and was like "Yeah, we did it!"
What's the best advice you've received?
[It came from] my track coach [Geoff] Holland during my junior year of indoor [when] I came in fourth place at states. I was in tears because I was so upset coming in fourth, knowing I could have come in first if I would have just had a normal day. He said: "I just want you to remember this day, remember this pain you're feeling and just work with it." And that's what I did. Every single practice I worked with it and I remember that pain and came back to win states next time.
How was winning an individual state title in track different from winning the state title in soccer?
That was a great feeling, but it was a little lonely. For our soccer team, winning the state championship, I had a whole team to celebrate with. In track, I was the only person from Sparrows Point at states that season and I was alone that day. I wanted to be alone because I knew I had to be serious, so I didn't want my friends there goofing off because I went there to win and had to be serious.
What's it like to pole vault?
It's scary! One time I went up and I don't know how high I was, but it was so scary I actually screamed. I was up in the air thinking: "Oh my gosh where am I!"