You never know who your replacement is going to be, but I may havealready found mine. Glenbrook North senior Mandy Mazur is atwo-sport athlete (soccer and volleyball) at the Northbrook schooland is managing editor of the school's paper, the Torch. She is alsoranked first in her class of 523, scored a 33 on the ACT, has nevergotten less than an A in a grading period and is headed to Princetonin the fall. All that has earned her a place on the Illinois HighSchool Association's academic all-state team.
It's a heady resume for someone who hasn't graduated high schoolyet. And for someone who isn't sure that journalism is a career forher, Mazur has already gotten that empowering feeling that most of usget when we write or report on an issue that gets us riled up.
Mazur, who is a three-year starter on the soccer team at midfield,wrote an opinion piece recently for the Torch about women'sathletics. But her point of view was that many people don't findwomen's sports that interesting or exciting, and that it really doeshave an effect on the athletes: the more fans show up, the morepositive an attitude the girls have.
She drew from personal experience and mentioned a volleyballsectional final she competed in this season against New Trier (theTrevians eventually went Downstate and lost in the quarterfinals).Unlike other volleyball matches Mazur played in over the season, thisone drew more fans because it was a sectional final, maybe 10 timesmore fans than at other matches. Mazur said it was an invaluableexperience to have those fans rally behind the Spartans so late inthe season, as they were only two wins away from heading Downstate.
I feel that girls are treated unfairly in sports and they don'tget as many fans," Mazur said. That [story] was very meaningful tome. I really enjoy writing and expressing my opinions."
So it's easy to see why Mazur was first nominated and thenselected for the academic team.
When I was told about being able to nominate someone, Mandy cameto mind right away," Glenbrook North soccer coach Al Knepler said.You're going up against a lot of good people, but I didn't take itfor granted. Anybody who got nominated had to be one of the topstudents in their school.
I think coaches don't nominate people sometimes because [theathlete] won't even get noticed," Knepler said. And I've always beenone to promote my players, especially if they're worthy of beingpromoted. Mandy is the top of her class."
Mazur said she was shocked to learn that she made the team lastmonth, even with her sterling academic record and involvement inNational Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society and theschool's peer group.
I didn't really know much about it beforehand," Mazur said. To behonest, I didn't really know this existed until this year."
She obviously knows now. Mazur has a tough schedule of athletics,extracurricular activities and hobbies like reading and spending timewith her family. For someone who makes participating in athletics andgetting good grades seem easy, Mazur is quick to refute that --especially since she has played club soccer during the Spartans'volleyball season.
Ever since freshman year I've always tried my best in school, andit's almost like I didn't realize how much I was doing," Mazur said.Over the winter I wasn't as pressured and realized, How did I doeverything?'"
But she didn't pursue everything. Her junior year, Mazur wanted tobe the Torch's editor-in-chief. But after talking to the paper'sadviser, she realized she'd be sacrificing the quality of herathletics if she went for the job. She decided to take a pass and letsomeone else have the post.
Mazur has a good sense of news judgment, and if she makesjournalism a career she's already on the right track. The Torchcaters not only to students and faculty at Glenbrook North but alsoto parents, so Mazur and her staff have to be careful of what storiesare published. Any controversial topic is taboo -- and, yes, so isthe Powder Puff football incident from last year.
I don't like talking about it," Mazur said. I hate that everyonegets sucked into talking about the whole image of that."
In terms of athletics, this might be the end of the line forMazur. She isn't sure if or how she'll continue sports at Princeton,but she might do intramurals or clubs.
But she won't stop her competitive nature in the classroom.
So I'd better watch out.