It took venturing out of her comfort zone for Elizabeth Craig to decide it was time to step into the world of high school athletics.
“The summer before my junior year, I, out of the blue, sat down and thought to myself, I’m going to be graduating soon…I told myself I should take the opportunity to be on a sports team,” says Craig. “I’d never been on one before.”
The recent graduate of Cornelia Connelly High School had narrowed her sport selection down to cross country, deciding it was the best choice to increase her overall fitness.
“I found out quickly I wasn’t in as good of shape as I thought I was,” says Craig. “So I figured cross country was the way to go.”
Craig’s beginnings as a distance runner were discouraging at best, with her times increasing over the course of her first season. Despite her rough start, she remained committed to improving.
Craig continued to run three miles a day, even after the cross country season had concluded, and her father often laced up his running shoes to join her. His motivation and her determination helped to push Craig to the next level.
“I showed up the next season, and I was one of the fastest runners,” says Craig. “It was really great to see [my] hard work pay off like that.”
The 18-year old was rewarded for her offseason efforts by being named captain of the cross country team during her senior year at Connelly, a role that she used to illustrate the importance of team-building and safety.
“I think that one of the most important things for me this year on cross country [was] to make sure everyone felt welcomed and that we were unified as a team,” says Craig. “My goal was to make sure everyone got through practices and races safe and uninjured.”
The Buena Park resident also played soccer for the Koalas and served on Connelly’s Campus Ministry team as the Commissioner of Prayer. Her love for the rosary along with the chance to compete as a student-athlete at a Catholic school both hold a special place for Craig.
“It’s definitely something special,” Craig says of her faith. “I think there’s something to be said for being able to do a sport and take a minute and pray beforehand…to make sure you realize that you can be proud of everything you do, but it’s only because of the talents that God gives you.”
Craig is headed to Virginia Tech where she is enrolled in the Army ROTC program. Her dad, a former U.S. Marine, continues to motivate and inspire her.
“My dad has played a big role in my life,” says Craig. “To have someone who’s willing to not only tell you, ‘You need to do this, but I’ll do it with you,’ it’s really inspirational. And I’m grateful for that.”