by Trinity Tran
25 October 2017
Being the first person to ever accomplish something is a feeling that no one can invalidate. Being the precedent for anything-no matter how significant or seemingly insignificant- is monumental and Oswego East senior Kendra Standish can vouch for this.
Senior Kendra Standish recently made the switch from being a home-schooled student to becoming a full-time Oswego East student for the current 2017-2018 school year. Despite this being her first year as a student, she has already been exposed to a major aspect of what makes up Oswego East. The athletics.
Throughout the duration of her freshman, sophomore, and junior year, she became the first home-schooled student to ever participate in Oswego East athletics.
Before Kendra, Oswego East did not have a specific process in place that allowed students that weren’t officially attending OE to participate in extracurriculars.
Throughout her youth, Kendra has always been exceptionally active. She played travel softball for several years and wanted to continue to play with those girls when they started playing on the high school team at OE.
“I didn’t understand why I wasn’t able able to participate in high school athletics when I was in high school and wanted to play high school sports,” Kendra said. “I was still receiving an education and taking the classes I need to for high school at home, so I should’ve be allowed to participate in the sports at East.”
Her parents supported her wish to join East athletics so they ended up contacting the school board. In the winter of her freshman year, they reached out to administration and athletic department of OEHS to inquire about having Kendra try out for the softball team.
They presented the Standish’s request to the school board, which voted to approve a policy allowing a home-schooled student to participate in extracurricular activities provided that they meet the IHSA standards. These standards specify that a student athlete must be enrolled in and passing at least five courses in order to participate in athletics.
The Standish’s homeschool curriculum and courses were approved and they contacted the athletic department every week to let them know she was passing her classes.
“It was a little bit of a struggle to pass this policy. My parents stayed in contact with the school administration through email and phone calls. I spoke in front of the school board during one of their meetings and expressed my love for athletics and my desire to participate in high school sports. In the end, it payed off.” Kendra explained.
In the grand scheme of things, after Kendra finally received the chance to join the softball team, the complications they had gone through seemed incredibly miniscule.
“I genuinely just fit in right away because I knew most of the girls from my travel softball team,” Kendra said. Pitching for the OEHS freshman team ended up being a tremendous success and joy for Kendra, and the team had a record-breaking year.
After playing softball during the spring of her freshman year, Kendra decided to act on her passion for running.
After joining the cross country team sophomore year, she quickly bonded with the coaches and her teammates. She fell in love with the team and her training and never looked back.
This smooth transition into a high school athletic atmosphere could not have been possible without the support of her parents, her unbreakable bond with her teammates, and the guidance of her cross country coach, Lisa Cook.
Kendra praised her coach and said that Cook could not have been more welcoming and she never once felt alienated from the rest of her cross country team.
“Kendra is quite the anomaly–I would have expected to need to make more accommodations for home-schooled athletes, but Kendra did not require that,” Cook admitted. “She has made me realize that having home-schooled athletes is to our advantage and that they can be included in the athletic program without any issues or setbacks. I’m so glad the legislation was passed to allow her to compete at OE.”
According to Cook, her presence on the team has been nothing but positive.
“In terms of fitting into the team, Kendra couldn’t have fit in more naturally. Her genuine care for others and ability to lead by example define her role on the team, and the other girls are drawn to that,” Cook added.
Not only has Cook noticed Kendra’s leadership but so have her teammates.
“Over the summer Kendra and I got to know each other enough to the point that we are no longer just teammates, we are close friends,” Senior Abby Flammersfeld said, “She has a very high leadership role on the team and I’ve always looked up to her.”
Flammersfeld also noted how Kendra perpetually places others before herself, setting a good example for others on the team, physically and mentally.
Kendra’s mother, Kristin Standish, further elaborated upon Kendra’s work ethic and internal self-drive.
“Self-discipline is one of Kendra’s greatest strengths. She very rarely has unproductive time, and has had to learn to prioritize and manage her time very well,” Standish said. “Everything she does takes her a step closer toward achieving her goals. When things get tough she remembers how her choices now will benefit her in the future.”
This determination has pushed Kendra toward only a successful path as she balances her transition into public school, a job, and running. After being a part of the girls track and cross country team for two years as a home-schooled student, Kendra now is officially not only an East athlete, but an East student.
Similarly to her transition into high school sports, her transition from homeschooling to public school has been seamless.
“I think a major part was because I already knew so many people from cross country, track, and softball,” Kendra explained.
Kendra was awarded Athlete of the Week and recently earned an all-conference title, only further illuminating the work ethic Cook and her mother applauded her for.
“Kendra is a highly motivated and highly skilled athlete. She truly embraces all that being a good athlete requires–both the physical work as well as the mental strength it takes to be successful,” Cook explained. “ She is inspiring to coach because she works so hard, and it is impossible not to work harder to help her meet her individual and team goals.”
Kendra Standish has set a precedent for any other home-schooled students who desire to have the same opportunities at East as enrolled students, and this deserves to be recognized.
Trinity Tran is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl