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COVID tried to bury her, but it didn’t know she was a seed.

There I stood, looking over my breakfast and lunch from earlier that day, splattered all over the gym floor. I could sense everyone in the gym staring at me, but I refused to turn around and face the humiliation. I laughed off the fact that I had just thrown up all over the floor, but what I really wanted to do was go home and never show my face in that gym again.

During the summer before my sophomore year of high school, I realized that to play college lacrosse, I needed to start taking my fitness more seriously. My three older brothers worked out at an intense gym for high school and college athletes, called Stadium Performance. I was confident that this same program was going to help me with my speed and strength. Although Stadium Performance did help me accelerate immensely in those skills, it taught me lessons far beyond physical ones. From the first moment I stepped foot in that gym, I felt intimidated by the talented athletes and coaches, yet I was completely oblivious to what would become a life-changing journey.

After that first mortifying workout at Stadium Performance, I felt certain I would never return. It was more advanced than anything I had expected or experienced and it was far beyond my fitness level. Everyone around me was stronger, faster, and more focused than I was. However, something about Stadium Performance lured me back. I admired the hard work that I saw everyone buying into. In the gym, no one cared what I looked like, where I came from, or what sport I played. The formula for success at Stadium Performance was simple; work hard and be respectful of others.

Once I thoroughly understood this idea, my results at Stadium Performance soared. I set new goals which forced me to push myself like never before, and I quickly realized what an opportunity this was for me to grow. Each time I went to the gym, I was more motivated to improve myself in every aspect of my life. I noticed I was gaining more confidence on the lacrosse field, within the classroom, and in my overall personal growth. Joe Caligiuri, the owner of the gym, noticed my dedication and improvement, and last spring, I was offered a job to work there.

I spent my summer at Stadium Performance wiping down dumbbells, bars, restocking Gatorades and waters, taking out the trash, and spotting people while they bench pressed. I would never have imagined two years prior when I first started, that I would be helping other athletes during their workouts and being a role model for the younger ones. As Joe always said, “You never know how far you can go until you get there.” I could have never predicted how much improvement I would end up making at Stadium Performance nor how grateful I would be for this wonderful community. This positive, meaningful, and life-changing experience taught me lessons that will stay with me for my entire life, and especially as I transition to college. 

With appreciation and gratitude,

Mary Daniel, Wellesley High School senior & Denison University Women’s Lacrosse, incoming freshman.

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