This month's installment of Victory Promotion's Student Athlete Showcase honors one of the North Country's emerging stars, Amanda McElheran, a sophomore from Immaculate Heart Central School in Watertown. She is the daughter of Patti and Mike McElheran. She has an older sister, Allison, who is currently attending Misericordia University in Pennsylvania.
This young woman presents herself as
"self-motivated" and eager to be the best she can be in everything
she is in involved in. From the time Mandi (her preferred name) was 8 months
old, she has been on the move, literally. Her mom shares that she was
"walking at 8 months." She has
not slowed down since; in fact, she prefers a lifestyle of being active, not
necessarily always on the athletic court or field.
Mandi found that she enjoyed sports at an
early age. Her parents, admittedly new to the organized sports scene in the
Watertown area, began to enroll her older sister in various organized sports
throughout Jefferson County. Mandi was "forced" to "tag
along" with the family, but she quickly points out that she really enjoyed
being there in the crowd with her parents. In fact, instead of complaining
about sitting and watching her sister, she chose to watch closely and study the
sports Alli was involved in. Dad recalls
enjoying these times with Mandi, and eventually, when she understood the sport
better, she would critique what Alli and the others were doing wrong! A
self-described sports junkie Mandi admits that watching and studying her sister
play sports is where her love for lacrosse and other sports was born.
Eventually she became old enough to participate herself and she has not skipped
a season since about second grade, including every summer.
Mandi says that her experiences with various
sports and the excellent coaching she has received have taught her many
valuable skills that allow her to now be a good teammate and friend. She
stresses team work throughout our interview. She feels the IHC school faculty
and staff do an excellent job of encouraging kids to be themselves, not
comparing students or causing a great deal of jealousy. According to Mandi the
school consistently fosters a positive atmosphere of acceptance for all
students. She and her parents have enjoyed this type of atmosphere for her and
her sister to learn and grow into well rounded women.
Mandi is a starting guard and captain on a
very successful Lady Cavalier women's basketball team. Although the Lady
Cavaliers suffered a recent defeat to the States number 1 Class D women's team,
Heuvelton, she insists the future is bright for her and her teammates, "if
we continue to work hard as a team."
Her coach Bob Piddock echoes this sentiment. "We have everyone back
except one senior; the girls know what they need to do to continue to
improve." He also says that he doesn’t have to worry about Mandi,
"she will put in the work in the off season." He agrees that her
improvement will need to come in individual skills. Coach Piddock feels Mandi
is a great teammate and "a great leader." Prior to the regular season
Coach met with the senior captain to consider a co-captain for the team and
choosing Mandi was a "no brainer." Mandi points out that the
atmosphere Coach Piddock promotes allows her and her teammates to have fun and
accept each of their roles "as important as the next player," this
includes the players who are on the bench at any particular time. She was
selected as a Frontier League All-Star this past season after receiving honorable
mention as a freshman.
According to her veteran soccer Coach Kurt
Robbins Mandi displays every attribute you would want to see in a leader. She
was named a captain this past season on purpose. He feels she is
"respected" by her teammates and she is not afraid "to speak her
mind" to coaches or teammates. Coach Robbins feels she was a perfect
compliment to the other two outstanding captains. Coach tells a story that
entering this past soccer season he was without a veteran goalie. Mandi
somewhat reluctantly volunteered. There was an unwritten expectation that, at
some point "she would return to her more natural spot at midfield."
When he proposed that she could indeed return to midfield, she commented that
she would "be glad to return if the new goalie was better than her."
Robbins feels she is a great goalie due to her tremendous athleticism, great
footwork, work ethic and "you cannot have an ego or conscience to be a
great goalie." Mandi was a Frontier
League All-Star as a goalie the past two seasons.
Mandi admits that lacrosse is her favorite
sport. While she admittedly enjoys being a three sport athlete it is her ability on the lacrosse field that has landed her a Division I scholarship to
the University of Albany. Mandi is very involved in "club lacrosse."
Her coach is Nancy Vecchio who does not mix words in describing the positive
influence Mandi and her family has had on the "Patriots" program.
Coach Vecchio echoes the sentiments of Mandi's other coaches in describing her
as a "self motivated, selfless, team first, type of athlete." Coach
considers Mandi's mom as a valuable assistant in the Patriots program.
According to Mandi it is "common" for lacrosse athletes to
"verbally declare to a college about half-way through their sophomore
season." Mandi and her parents visited two other colleges and considered
several others. She was immediately impressed with Albany from the time she
arrived there. She feels she has made the right decision for her. Added to the
athletic experience she hopes to enjoy, Albany has the major she is interested
in; Digital Forensics. She has developed a genuine interest in criminology and
this major fits perfectly with her current plan. She explains that she will not
be able to formally sign a letter of intent until her senior year.
Mandi involves herself in many
activities outside of athletics. She is just as motivated in the classroom as
in athletics. She sees her work in the classroom to be equally important to
anything she does as an athlete. Mandi
is consciously trying to become a better, well rounded student. She is a writer
for the school newspaper, as well as involving herself in programs to assist
people and families less fortunate than she. The local soup kitchen, leaf
removal and the building blocks programs take up some of the rare “free time”
she has. She also likes arts and crafts, but "I hate music," meaning
the playing of music and singing!!!
Hoping to get stronger
physically, improve specific individual skills in all sports, and being even
more verbal and a better teammate and leader, she also looks forward to the new
challenges her school will have for her academically. These are the areas Mandi
feels she needs to improve as she patiently moves forward the next two years.
When you spend 30 minutes with this young woman you get a sense that she will
be true to her goals and diligently work to better herself in these areas.
The accolades for this talented sophomore
are too many to name. Everyone associated with helping me with this article
described her as "mature beyond her years" and "very
grounded." She NOT ONCE talked about herself BEFORE talking about how
important her teammates are to her. In addition, very healthy amounts of a
challenging academic atmosphere, great coaching, and, most especially, parents
who have provided their children with varied activities and support them
completely, have all had a part in guiding Mandi in becoming this terrific
young woman, emerging athletic star and leader, teammate and honor student. She
has a multitude of resources available to her to work through the necessary
areas she defines as her weaknesses. I am pretty sure she will use these people
and places to her benefit!
Congratulations Mandi on
being selected as this month’s honoree. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit with you
and yourparents. We all wish you good luck as you pursue you goals!