Holy Family Academy has yet another "first" to celebrate. On October 13th, seventh grader, Olivia N., will be the first Holy Family athlete to compete in a statewide athletic competition as she heads to Normal, IL for the IESA (Illinois Elementary School Association) Cross Country Championships. Olivia qualified Saturday by placing in the Class 1A Sectional Cross Country Meet held at Melas Park in Arlington Heights.
Begun in 2002 with only 29 students in kindergarten and first grade, Holy Family Academy used a grow-a-school model to add a grade each year, and has grown to an enrollment of almost 450 students. Along the way, the athletics program has also blossomed. In just four years, the Academy's athletics have grown from a single boys basketball team to over twelve teams in five different sports.
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The growth in athletics has been fueled by committed parents who have stepped up as coaches and mentors for the young athletes. This certainly was the case for the Cross Country team. The team has grown more than four-fold from just six runners two years ago to 27 runners this year. A big part of the growth is attributed to the team's coaches, Ian and Katya Norman. Both marathon runners, the Normans have shared their passion for running with the team. They have not only taught the kids the basics of how to enjoy running and to compete in Cross Country, they have built a community with the athletes and families. Every runner is equally important and every runner improves. "One of our proudest moments as a team came when a coach from another team went out if his way to compliment our team's sportsmanship," stated Janet Sweno, parent of McKenzie, a Cross Country athlete. "In the end, isn't that what we want for our children?"
Holy Family Academy's mission is to build skills to succeed in high school and beyond. Clearly, learning that a sport is more than winning is a life skill that will serve Olivia and all of her teammates well into the future.