Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By Dominika Chruszcz
The adrenaline rush of making a shot in the net becomes an indescribable moment dear to a high-school athlete’s heart. The start of a basketball game buzzer triggers immense applause of the crazy crowd rooting for the Mundelein Women’s Basketball team. Gruesome three-hour trainings filled with various drills, plays, and weight lifts result in success. With a record of seven three-pointers in a row, Madison Parola, creates her own balance between playing three sports over the span of different seasons and her academics.
A 16 year-old girl raised in a suburb dreams big of fulfilling her wishes in the future. Initially being influenced from her mother to take on dancing and other gymnastic courses as a child, Parola decided to carve her own path by choosing and interchanging between playing basketball, volleyball, and track. She started engaging in sports from third grade.
“I thought it’d be awesome to try and venture out into something a lot of people thought in my grade was weird,” Parola said. “That was just my personality at the time. I thought I’d try it.”
Although sports have taken a major role in Parola’s life, that doesn’t deter her from focusing on AP classes. When she’s at a game, she could be up until 1 am and later fulfilling household chores.
“That’s just how I’ve been raised; to have higher than a 4.0,” she said.
Parola said she finds herself seeing her teammates achieve a lot academically in addition to their athletic successes. She’s always believed that everyone should have another hobby or club that they could spend their time at rather than primarily focusing on school.
In regards to participating at another club at Mundelein, Parola competes in Mock Trial. She sees herself to be influential in voicing her opinions that further impact her opinion writing in her Journalism 21st Century class. Her Mock Trial experience has made her look into becoming a lawyer for a future career, with a secondary goal of writing a book.
Despite how managing sports and different classes might seem like an agonizing struggle to some, Parola’s mother, Amanda Parola, views her daughter as strong-willed, hard-headed, and a go-getter.
“She’s fearless on going towards what a lot of kids her age are afraid of doing,” Amanda Parola said. “Her will to succeed is what’s one of her best qualities.”
Complementary to Parola’s athletic abilities, Amanda Parola gave her daughter the nickname of Scrappy. Parola’s ways of fighting for the ball and challenging herself caused Amanda Parola to think the nickname is appropriate.
Amanda Parola acknowledged that one of her daughter’s main struggles would be dealing with having both parents work in the same school she’s at. Since Parola’s father is the Head of the Athletic Department at Mundelein, she pushes herself even harder to make people understand that she works for everything she earns. Making people realize that her abilities are why she gets where she gets is definitely a challenge presented to Parola, according to her mother.
Not only does Parola face day-to-day challenges at her high school, she’s faced bullying in the past in her elementary school. Parola said that she was bullied because she was not “the ideal perfect person” judged by the “popular girls” based on her weight or not wearing makeup.
“I still remember what the boys would say,” Parola said. “I always had a problem with releasing [toxic thoughts].”
Growing up into a more mature woman, Parola established her own definition of perfectionism. She believes that reality features people that have divergent thoughts and dreams that never follow a specific format for flawlessness. Currently, Parola’s content with what her fate holds.
“I’ve just grown to accept myself,” Parola said. “I’ve grown to find comfort in my own achievements.”