Athlete Profile: Jasmine Ametovski
September 27, 2021
Senior Jasmine Ametovski is in her fourth year of high school cross country; however, this year is the first year that she has been elected team captain and it is her last year to achieve her goals in the sport. Cross country is a sport where the numbers do not lie; if one is truly making improvements, their times will reflect that. Therefore, the goal that is in front of everyone’s mind along with team success is running a fast race.
“Personally, this season I hope to break my personal best, which would be to break 22 minutes for three miles,” Ametovski said. “As a team, I am really hoping we can be unified this year and have team spirit. Additionally, I hope we can qualify for sectionals and send a few girls down to state.”
Ametovski maintaining the balance between chasing team goals as well as her personal goals are some of the leadership qualities that got her elected captain by her teammates. Demonstrating those team goals is just as important as personal goals can be very influential for the team as a whole.
“She has great energy that makes people feel comfortable,” senior Ravyn Edran said. “She is very organized & responsible, and she is very motivating.”
Having a captain who motivates as much as Ametovski is huge, especially when the cross country season is as intense as it is. For most sports, a lot of competition is no big deal, but in cross country, having to constantly be ready to push oneself to the max is something that a lot of athletes have trouble with.
“I feel like I am ready. We have had three years to prepare, so I am pretty used to this schedule we have,” Ametovski said. “Meets on Tuesdays and Saturdays; it is like a habit to me at this point.”
It is really great as an athlete to have the feeling of competition just being a routine thing. But even the best of the best struggle when there is a lot on their plate to deal with. Running is half mental, half physical, and being a student-athlete can be difficult with the stress of balancing one’s academic and athletic life. If an athlete does not have their stressors under control by race time, it may have a prominent effect on their performance.
“I deal with a lot of stress from school and sports; however, when it is time to practice I try to put all of my stress away because there is one focus at practice. It is practice, [and the focus] is to get better so you can be good for your race,” Ametovski said. “I deal with everything else when I get out of cross country. I confide with others if I have stressors I need to talk about, and if I keep doing that by race day, I should be mentally ready and excited to run.”
Another challenge on the mental side of competing is mental blocks. They can be caused by injuries, bad performances, or something outside of the sport. Mental blocks can be very discouraging and can trap an athlete in a negative headspace. But something all dedicated athletes need to do is find a way through it.
“During the season the worst mental block I will have is when I get an injury because you get nervous and anxious that it will not go away in time,” Ametovski said. “It kind of ruins your mental headspace going into a race and it defeats you a little. I have had times I have tried to run, but mentally, it just was not there.”
This ability to get through mental blocks never goes unnoticed; when an athlete gets through a drought, teammates and coaches can feel the energy it brings.
“[Ametovski] does a great job at handling adversity,” Coach Ryan Hlinak said. “Last year she was injured right at the end of summer during our camp. She could have let this ruin her season, but instead, she worked through it and was back running with minimal time off.”
Getting through mental problems shows the true character of an athlete; it shows who has all the tools to succeed. Every step of the journey, especially the bad ones, teaches us very important lessons. With those lessons comes experience, and being a captain is one of the best traits to have. In cross country, all the members of the team constantly train and compete together regardless of age or level. Younger athletes who have yet to experience the hardest parts of the sport need an older figure to take advice from.
“For somebody in a mental block, I think it is really important to know that it is not permanent,” Ametovski said. “It might feel really hard to step out there and do what you need to do. That is the biggest part, and that is the biggest mountain to climb– just getting over that and starting.”
All of these challenges are hard to get through and can make it difficult to continue the sport for a lot of people. But going through all of the challenges pays off when an athlete has that one good performance that they will remember for the rest of their life.
“My most memorable moment was last year. I had just run a really good race; it was really close to my goal,” Ametovski said. “I remember I was running with Kylie Craig, and I had formed a really close bond with her during the season. She and I were just really happy for each other, and I feel like throughout this sport, I have created really important and valuable connections.”
Getting through challenges and adversity and ending up in a place where there is true happiness is why athletes compete. Ametovski’s teammates and coaches have been able to see first-hand what the sport and team mean to her. With one more season left to spend with the team and chase after her goals, hopefully, it goes through as planned and ends with a well-earned “runner’s high.”