by Ryan Romaine
Seniors Alex Livernois and Isabella Krempa were chosen by coaches as the 2014 athletes of the year. This award, established last year, is designed to recognize the best overall female and male senior athletes. The honor was announced as a surprise to the two seniors on June 5 during the Senior Athletes Banquet at the Gran Centurion in Clark.
“Both Alex and Isabella represent the athletic ability and spirit of this award,” said Assistant Principal-Athletics Ryan Miller. “They were the catalysts for outstanding performances for their teams and they both achieved ‘personal bests’ in every viable statistical category as seniors.”
Cross Country, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track
In February, 2012, during his sophomore year, Livernois made a difficult transition from living in California to living in New Jersey. He left behind a cross-country program that was constantly changing coaches and lacked the stability that, according to head track coach Jeff Koegel, is necessary to allow athletes to develop properly. Now, two years later, Livernois is one of the 2014 athletes of the year.
Livernois’s determination and ability to execute a race plan contributed to his astonishing improvement and help distinguish him as an athlete. This improvement was evident when he placed third at the Group Three Championship this past winter and qualified for the prestigious Meet of Champions.
“He doesn’t just want to be good, he understands that that’s not going to come without putting the work in,” said Koegel. “I wish I could have coached him all four years because there was nothing in the beginning that said ‘this kid is going to be star,’ but he’s one of the best I’ve ever had, and that’s in 18 years of coaching.”
Since joining the Scotch Plains-Fanwood program, Livernois has been able to shave 1:09 from his time in the 3200 as well as run a 4:25 in the 1600, after not being able to break five minutes prior to his move. These improvements are testaments to the work that Livernois put in to get to his current level as an athlete.
Livernois is proof that, while talent and speed are undoubtedly important in track, hard work and dedication are equally significant and often shape athletes into stars.
“He likes to run,” said Koegel. “It does hurt, in that the pain is also self-inflicted. But the number of miles you have to put in, being willing to run twice a day, run when you are on vacation, run over the summer when it’s hot or humid, being out in the snow or rain, he has that commitment and the willingness to improve. That’s the difference.”
Success in multiple sports requires a high level of dedication. While Krempa’s success as a volleyball player is clear, her performance as an integral part of the lacrosse program is equally impressive.
This past season, Krempa led her volleyball team with 63 aces and 239 service points. These are staggering numbers, as she led these categories by 22 and 48, respectively.
“Kremp is my quarterback on the court and I depend on her to lead her teammates,” said head volleyball coach Adrienne Stack. “She leads by example, carries herself with poise and puts every ounce of herself into her performance every single day.”
While she may stuff the stat sheet in volleyball, she affects the game much differently in lacrosse.
“[Isabella’s] name doesn’t show up in the paper very often, or the stat sheet except for ground balls, but she does a lot that her teammates and coaches notice,” said head lacrosse coach Robert Rafferty. “She changes the game and does the little things that you ask her to.”
Krempa’s hard work and tireless effort in competition allow her to excel as a multisport athlete. This versatility was considered as the coaches made their decision.
Rafferty also believes that her intelligence contributed to her ability to meet the high demands of two very different sports.
“Isabella is a bright kid, and she’s able to play both volleyball and lacrosse at a high level,” said Rafferty. “She received more accolades in volleyball in terms of individual honors as opposed to lacrosse, but she follows the game very well. She’s one of the best defenders [on the team], and she is able to help her teammates out almost like a coach on the field.”
In addition, Krempa’s accomplishments as a volleyball player only emphasize her title of athlete of the year.
“[Isabella’s] will, determination, and commitment to the team and the sport worked to create a positive climate and helped propel the team towards success this season,” said Stack. “She has left huge shoes to fill, but I am confident that the legacy she has left behind will carry on in seasons to come.”
Miller made it a point to describe how proud he was each athlete, neither of whom grew up as a part of the Scotch Plains community. While Livernois moved from California, Krempa came from Pennsylvania.
“Their leadership was earned by performance and actions as they became a part of the Raider Nation,” said Miller. “ They were not brought up in this culture from elementary school, but became the stuff of legends while navigating a new school system.”