Clare Gallagher said she was in shock when told she was the winner of the 2010 Fred Steinmark High School Athlete of the Year Award. "No way," was …
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Clare Gallagher said she was in shock when told she was the winner of the 2010 Fred Steinmark High School Athlete of the Year Award.
"No way," was Gallagher's first response. "Oh, my gosh. I'm so honored. I know of Fred Steinmark and his life is so inspiring for young people. Just to be mentioned with him in the same sentence is so exciting. After I was nominated I read more about his life and just how he had been an inspiration to so many in his short life.
"For me, the Steinmark epitomizes the student-athlete standard that I have worked so hard to embody during my high school career," Gallagher said. "It is also one of the highest indicators of overcoming adversity. Fred's life is so inspiring for such a talented student-athlete to have expected life plans stripped from him over the course of days. In transferring the fervor that he used on the football field to spreading cancer awareness and fighting his own cancer, he set the standard for hardworking and selfless student-athletes."
Gallagher is the 37the winner of the girls Steinmark Award and the third girl from Cherry Creek to win. The previous Bruins to win were Dee Binning in 1989 and Stephanie Pepper in 2008. Last year's winner was Laura Trembly from Thompson Valley. The first girl to win the award was Anne Vento of Pueblo Centennial in 1974.
"The other girls are so outstanding, too," Gallagher said. "Any one of them would have been wonderful representatives of the award."
Gallagher earned her All-state honors in cross country and track. Not only that, she swam for the Bruins and played lacrosse. She also was a member of the 2007 and 2008 state champion lacrosse teams at Cherry Creek.
When it came to cross country, Gallagher was a hard competitor to run down. She won the Centennial League championship three times, was a two-time region champion and was second in the 2008 state championships. She was named to the All-Midwest cross country team and competed, as well, in the Footlocker Regional in Kenosha, Wisconsin where she finished 15 and 16th, respectively, in 2008 and 2009.
Outside of high school competition, Gallagher made her mark as well, winning her age group division of the prestigious Bolder Boulder in 2009. However, she was unable to defend her title in last week's Bolder Boulder as she was out of town with her family.
Gallagher has served as the Cherry Creek captain on the Bruins track team the past two seasons. On the track she has won individual conference titles in the 800, 1,600, and 3,200 (twice) events and is the Bruins record holder in the 1,600, 3,200 and as member of the 3,200 relay team.
In the state meet two weeks ago she placed fourth in the 3,200 and ran on the Bruins state championship 3,200 relay team. She also had finished fourth in the 1,500 and fifth in the 3,200-meters at the Great Southwest Meet last season.
Gallagher graduated No. 20 in a class of 855 at Cherry Creek with a 4.506 weighted grade point average and will continue her education at Princeton University. A pair of B+ marks were the only ones she received below A's in her high school career, both in AP courses. When it came to the ACT's, she scored in the top 96 percentile.
"My academic, athletic and citizenship accomplishments should speak for themselves," said Gallagher, who wants to major in Biology and Environmental Studies at Princeton. "However, overcoming Celiac disease is a quieter accomplishment that I take pride in conquering."
Throughout her junior year, Gallagher encountered severe stomach pains that prevented her from doing full training and eating. She was forced to adopt a completely new diet bereft of all wheat, barley and rye products.
"It was a difficult adjustment, but within months I was healthier and pain free," wrote Gallagher in her personal letter to the Steinmark committee. "I feel that I fought through my Celiac distraction and was still able to compete at a competitive level. This accomplishment is what the Steinmark Award also means to me, performing through adversity."
Gallagher has had big footsteps to follow in her own family. Her oldest brother, Scott, received a Boettcher Scholarship, and another brother, Eric, is finishing his sophomore year at West Point. Now she is set for the college challenge and will compete in cross country and indoor and outdoor track at Princeton.
"I'm really looking forward to the challenge," Gallagher said. "I know it's not going to be easy, but I'm looking forward to the opportunities it presents."
Gallagher has been active in Speech and Debate and won a Degree of Distinction competing in Humor. She is also a member of the Spanish Honor Society, a peer counselor and mentor to youth and Cherry Creek students, and was President of the Recycling Club, as well as a member of the school wide President's Club that correlates diverse school events.
"Clare is such a positive and supportive team member," wrote cross country coach Steve Dertinger. "She is known for providing motivation and encouragement in all of her activities, specifically helping ELA students as a member of Peer Ambassadors, and tutoring at all levels during one of her free periods. She goes above and beyond and is happiest when helping others and giving 100 percent."
Outside of athletics, Gallagher's teachers speak highly of her quality and accomplishments.
"Despite having all these credits to her name, Clare is very modest and grounded," wrote science teacher Ethan Dusto. "She even finds times to help her dad, Mike, raise chickens in the backyard of their suburban home. This is not the typical 'Cherry Creek' extracurricular activity of which she is very proud."
And, it certainly brings a chuckle to Gallagher when she discusses this back yard activity.
"We just raise hens," she said. "We had a rooster, but dad quickly got rid of him. We're just not used to being wakened at 3 a.m. in the morning. It's a lot of fun, just like a lot of kids who work on their farms."
"Clare is a natural leader," writes AP Language/Composition teacher Kathy McInerney. "I've never met a more sincerely humble intellect. She took a young man who was struggling in my AP class under her wing, so to speak, and nurtured his confidence to the point where at the end of the year he was almost as courageous in his risk-taking as Clare herself. In short, she was a boon to my class."
Said Counselor Susan Swisher, "Clare combines tenacity and self-discipline with a strong work ethic, natural intellect and social grace. When she decides to do something, she is 'all in.' Whether it is balancing sports, activities or schoolwork, she never gives less than a full effort."
As a winner of the Steinmark, people should expect nothing less.
Lindsey Boyd, Standley Lake; Samantha Cure, Idalia; Lindsey Hubbard, Valley; Aniecia Lujan, Bennett; Jordan May, Stratton; Jordyn Rienks, Paonia; Andi Slouka, Heritage.
Other nominees: Megan Abman, Colorado Academy; Savana Garcia, Valley; Morgan Griffin, Lewis-Palmer; Kaitlin Hanenburg, The Classical Academy; Erica Hinchcliffe, Greeley West; Beth Jones, Eaton; Paige Livingston, Fort Collins; Anna Marshall, Pueblo West; Elise Miller, St. Mary's Colorado Springs; Quincey Noonan, Legacy; Lauren Policky, Salida; Whitney Prior, Rock Canyon; Johanna Reed, Paonia; Carmen Whitehead, Greeley West.
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