Opportunity knocks, Alyssa Bailey answers
Opportunities are so fleeting; here one day, gone the next.
That is something that has been especially true for high school athletes this spring. The COVID-19 lockdowns, shutdowns, stay-at-home orders and all the rest have cost so many high school seniors their final seasons on the pitch, diamond, court, course and track.
But for recent Berthoud High School (BHS) graduate Alyssa Bailey, having to forgo her senior season on the track, ironically, provided a moment of clarity. Bailey recently committed to competing as a Division-One athlete on the University of Northern Colorado track and field team, focusing on the long-jump and triple-jump. In a round-about way, it was in the absence of her senior season at BHS where she realized what precisely she was missing.
“I think losing my senior season really opened my eyes to how it feels to not compete in the sport I have so much passion for,” Bailey explained, adding that opportunities like the ones with which she was presented don’t come about every day. “I started getting contacted by coaches and still kept putting it off until I realized that the opportunity to run at the collegiate level only comes once and I decided I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”
She poignantly explained that the tumult the pandemic caused, which touched almost all aspects of everyone’s lives, provided both a great learning experience as well as the opportunity. She articulated a point that all prep athletes working toward a college scholarship should heed saying, “I have learned through this process that I tend to let fear keep me from pursuing things. Being that this process happened during a pandemic, I have also learned that there is not enough time to not follow your heart! I look forward to being a part of a team and a community that shares the same passion.”
In three years competing on the BHS track & field team – where she proved herself as a standout in sprints, middle-distance, relays and jumps – Bailey collected an astounding 36 medals, 15 of them gold. Bailey had four top-10 finishes at the state track meet and was poised to match that number this spring.
Even with all the success, she had earned her previous three years, Bailey knew that this spring would be her moment to shine; she would make her mark not only on the BHS, Tri-Valley Conference and 3A record books but also for those college coaches and scouts. When the season was canceled after just one meet, she thought her chance had passed and made other plans.
“It was really hard losing my senior season of track. The hardest part was only being able to give the coaches my junior year marks, although they were sufficient, I knew I could have made huge strides this year because of all my offseason training,” Bailey said.
Bailey had several out-of-state offers but really wanted to stay close to home with her family and friends. She said that BHS head track and field coach, Blaine Voth, was enormously helpful in getting her on Northern Colorado’s radar.
The fit for Bailey – staying close to home, being able to pursue a pre-med career path in biomedical sciences and compete at the D1 level – proved perfect.
As she explained, “Coach Voth and I started reaching out to more local colleges and UNC said they’d love to offer me a spot! I was scared at first but ultimately decided I could not let fear hold me back and I took the opportunity to stay close to home and run at a Division 1 college, which is something I never thought I’d be able to say!”
“Alyssa is a hard-working and very-coachable person,” Voth said. “She is going to be very successful at UNC and will help their program in many ways.”
Bailey admitted that, as her own toughest critic, competing at the D1 level will be a challenge but is one she embraces with open arms. She said the key will be, as it is for any athlete at any level in any sport, maintaining a confident mentality.
Like so many BHS athletes, Bailey explained the Berthoud community has been an enormous boon throughout her life as a student, athlete and young person.
Being part of the Berthoud Community is so special. People are unaware of how close we are and how much support we offer to each other. The track team at Berthoud has a special bond and I am going to miss all of the underclassmen I got so close to. I look forward to coming back to watch some meets next year and be there for any of the athletes that need advice or guidance!
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