Catie Malone, DSHA '19, won the Courage Award at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's High School Sports Awards night in early May. The Courage Award recognizes individuals who don't let personal or physical challenges get in the way of the desire to be an athlete. Read Catie's nomination letter, written by DSHA cross country coach Andrew Lelinski, below. _______________________________
To Whom It May Concern,
It has been my distinct pleasure to come to know Catie Malone as an athlete and an individual over the last three years. Primarily, I have coached Catie as a member of the Divine Savior Holy Angels cross country team. During that time, Catie established herself as one of the strongest runners and individuals I have ever known. The remarkable part of Catie’s decision to be a runner is that she is not supposed to run.
In running, things become difficult quickly, and when things are difficult a runner must rely on the fortitude of his or her will—a runner must be tough. Catie’s attitude and actions as an athlete are the definition of toughness. Catie has CMT, a form of muscular dystrophy, and is not supposed to be a runner. While most people possess an instinctual knowledge of knowing how to run, Catie actually has to think about putting one foot in front of the other. Every step she takes, running or not, is one about which she makes a conscious decision.
When I see Catie after she races, she is often covered in dirt and occasionally bleeding. On courses where the footing is more challenging, Catie sometimes falls. When I check in with Catie after these races, she treats the experience in a matter-of-fact way. What for most high school athletes would normally be a traumatic event in the context of a race is merely a challenge she encounters and overcomes without any fanfare. Beyond her example of leadership, when called upon to speak, her strength shines forth. Catie has addressed all fifty members of the cross country team on a few occasions to discuss the challenge and gift of her running in her life. Never does Catie lament how difficult it is for her to run. Instead, Catie often talks about how lucky she is to be able to run at all.
Catie spent most of her senior season unable to complete even the shortest of practices as she progressed through a round of physical therapy to increase strength and flexibility to return to running. As we approached the conference meet, Catie indicated that she wanted to take part in what would be the final competition of her high school career. This race would be longer than she had run at any one time all season and at a significantly greater effort. In characteristic determinedness, Catie challenged herself throughout the race, running farther and faster than she had all year.
I can say with absolute certainty that I have never a met a person with more determination to overcome the challenges with which she is faced. Catie is both an inspiration to me and her peers and a model of what it means to be strong. Though I will be sad to see Catie graduate, I know that she is destined to be a success as a positive and diligent contributor in whatever she chooses to do.