Senior Michelle McPherson shows kindness on and off the trackMichellesketch

Creaky bleachers seemed extra blinding under the diffused sun rays, and eighth grader Michelle McPherson felt anxiety swell as she prepared for her first track meet as a Lewis Leopard. An old family friend and track coach came bearing a gift: a black adidas bag holding coach’s running shoes, old and worn from her glory days. The smell of sweat and hard work oozed out of the bag as she pulled out the black and orange tiger striped shoes and laced them on her feet. She took her place on the track. “Tigers are fast, which is what you’re going to be,” her coach told her. Those were McPherson’s first pair of spikes.

Five years and 196 races later, those tiger shoes dangle on her bedroom wall. McPherson, now varsity track captain, pounded out a personal best of 12.9 seconds  in the 100 and placed 4th in PAC 8 in the 100 and 5th in the 200. Senior Ty Jones, her varsity track captain and friend, describes McPherson as “the rock” and motivator.

“She’s extremely competitive. She does not like to lose, but at the same time if you’re down on yourself, Michelle will always be there to help. She’ll remind you of other things you’ve done correctly,” Jones said. He said she may be a star in the meets, but she always cares. “She has taught me to never get down on myself, andhat if I’m not feeling up to anything, to just suck it up, and it will be over soon,” Jones continued.

Her track career hasn’t been sunshine and daisies. The first mountain to climb came sophomore year when she pulled a hip flexor from running too hard without stretching enough. She watched practice for the rest of her first varsity season.

“I felt really sad; I felt like I was letting down the team,” said McPherson, who, regardless of the emotional and physical pain, powered through therapy. After hours of physical therapy and cheering her team on from the sidelines, she was all set and ready to go for junior year.

While track
and running have been a huge part of her life, McPherson’s passion for people has been just as big of a role. Her mother has witnessed it firsthand.

“Michelle loves people; she loves to help people. She always makes sure that people are having a good time,” said Deb McPherson, who teaches science at Lewis Middle School.

Senior Dominic Petrillo reflects on times where the kind heart and love really shined through from his good friend of seven years.

“I see Michelle’s kindness everyday. She never leaves anybody out and will go out of her way to just get to know them. She’s friends with
everybody. She’s so kind that it’s not hard to be good friends with her.”

Appropriately, her favorite Dr. Seuss character is the title pachyderm from “Horton Hears a Who.” Other than being an elephant, Mcpherson’s favorite animal, he, like her,  can hear someone overlooked by others.

Like Horton, relationships have been another mountain. Throughout middle and high school, she has had to wrestle with letting go of people who hold her back from the good she could be doing. She admitted a desire to be friends with everyone can be a phobia on the flipside.

“I’m most scared of losing friends… letting go of the ones that have negatively affected me is probably the biggest mountain I’ve faced so far.”

Yet her McPherson’s strength and courage amid the obstacles inspire those around her.

“Watching her overcome her mountains and become who she is has been really cool. She’s a role model. She’s the person everyone wants to be. She’s real; a genuine friend, and that’s really good,” Dominic said.

She will tell you the stumbling blocks and the summits vary: from dead last in every equestrian show to first in every one; from letting go of friends to making new ones; from a freshman pulled hip flexor to smoking league competitiohortonn.

McPherson explained she has one motto she strives to live by everyday. “Just because it’s not a perfect day doesn’t mean it’s not a perfect life.” Everyday, regardless what she’s going through, regardless the mountains she’s facing, McPherson seeks happiness and joy. She seeks ways to make others come before herself and decides that no matter what she does, she’s go
ing to love on everyone.

After June 10, a PRHS diploma, and a summer break, she will spreading the kindness at University of Nevada Las Vegas, a hospitality major with hopes of becoming a wedding planner.
“Hospitality has a lot to do with happiness. You have to put others before yourself and make sure that they’re happy. And I love happiness. Why be sad when you can be happy?”

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