When asked about Katie Zaferes, the responses fell into the same theme: humble, selfless, giving.
She was always the type of person who gave everything she had, and then some, said Elizabeth Foyle, Zaferes' former cross country coach. Zaferes would stand at the finish line after her races to cheer for everyone else and congratulate them when they crossed.
"That meant a lot more to the last person," Foyle said. "That's just the person she was."
Zaferes, a 2007 North Carroll High School graduate and Hampstead native — and most recently a triathlete at the 2016 Rio Olympics — came to speak to the community that helped raise and support her all her life.
The 27-year-old came and spoke to the students of Manchester Valley High School during the day Tuesday, and even did a workout with the cross country team in the afternoon, Foyle said. Zaferes then met and greeted community members, and answered questions, Tuesday evening.
"It's just something in her. She's so optimistic and giving," Foyle added. "I love her dearly."
For Zaferes, Tuesday night was a chance to talk and catch up with her home community.
It's just fun, she said. It's especially nice for her to be home because being a highly competitive athlete, she doesn't get to be home often.
"It's nice to just see familiar faces and kids who are in the same position that I was just not so long ago," Zaferes said.
And it's important to talk to the kids to give any advice she can and share her experiences with them.
On Tuesday she talked about everything from her training regiment to her nutrition to her traveling schedule to her favorite ice cream — chocolate chip cookie dough from Hoffman's Home Made Ice Cream.
Zaferes began running triathlons on an international level in 2013, and this May, she received an Olympic spot. She finished 18th in the women's triathlon at the Rio Games. Zaferes' American teammate Gwen Jorgensen won the race, finishing in 1:56:16. Zaferes finished in 2:00:55.
"I'm now the person that I always looked up to when I was their age," Zaferes said, referring to the students.
For 13-year-old Sarah Grill, Zaferes is exactly that.
She was the North Carroll Middle School student's swim coach. Zaferes taught Sarah how to swim from the time she was 2 or 3 years old, said Melissa Grill, her mother. Everybody always wanted her to be their instructor, Grill added.
"It's very inspiring," Sarah said of Zaferes' success as an athlete, especially being from such a small community. "She's like my role model."
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