Double Tough: Paige Wins Second Straight Gatorade Athlete of the Year AwardJul 02, 2020 04:33PM ● By Casey Stevenson
TEWKSBURY - Makayla Paige has done it again!
Last month, the TMHS rising senior was honored as Gatorade’s Massachusetts Track and Field Athlete of the Year. This is the second consecutive year that she has been awarded this honor, and she more than deserves it, working hard all through her high school academic and running career with a friendly smile on her face and fierce determination in her heart.
Although Makayla is seemingly unstoppable, she has been impacted by the nationwide shutdown.
“As a runner, the way the pandemic has affected me is by making training more mentally difficult," she said. "This is because most of the runs that I would go on were by myself and it definitely made me realize how awesome and lucky it is to have a team that can go on easy runs with you or have them when doing a hard workout.
"The way that the pandemic affected me academically was that it allowed me to choose when to do my work and become better at time management, such as procrastinating less.”
But Makayla said has found ways to jump over these hurdles, thanks to the help of her family.
“To combat these obstacles, I have tried to do some of my runs or workouts with other people," she explained. "One person that I would frequently run with was my dad and we would have a lot of fun. There have been a few other times where I got the opportunity to meet up with a few of the TMHS graduates. But soon I am hoping that the cross country team will be able to hold small captains practices for the people who want to continue running. On the academic side, I would get myself to spread the work throughout the week instead of waiting until the last minute.”
As Makayla comes from a family of athletes, they have all had to fight their own difficulties, and they do it together.
“ My family have all been getting involved in sports and improvising their own workouts. My dad would do a lot of the training that I was (doing) for cross country and then later on he would join my sister in training for soccer," she said. "My sister has been able to go to her club soccer practices once or twice a week for the past few weeks, but before that she would do a few runs with my dad and I.
"Finally, my mom has been going on bike rides with me and has been able to help me in many of the track workouts that I would have been struggling to do without her," Makayla added. "She has also gotten the family to go on really fun hikes and she likes to go on her own runs as well. My whole family has been a big part as to why I am still able to train and be motivated over this time in the pandemic and I wanted to send a huge thank you to them.”
Makayla still misses regular life, and the team that motivates her.
“The thing that I miss most about regular running would be seeing the team after school and being able to run with them," she said. "It was always a ton of fun to just hang out with them and I knew that if I had a bad day at school they would always be there to make it better."
But good news recently came to the Paige family with the announcement from Gatorade.
“It is definitely super exciting to win the Gatorade award twice and I am very grateful to be able to receive it again," she said.
The Gatorade Athlete of the Year awards have a multi-step selection process.
“I believe that you are nominated by a coach or someone you know and then they fill out information that you do for your sport, what you do academically, as well as the things that you do for the community," said Makayla. "Then with this information you are voted upon by the group giving out the awards, I believe.”
The award comes with some cool perks, said Makayla.
“What comes with the award is a banner that is sent to the school, a trophy, a Gatorade sideline kit, as well as a backpack.”
Makayla’s banner from last year was and is still displayed proudly on a wall in the Tewksbury Memorial High School Gymnasium.
Makayla also had some wise words of advice for athletes affected by the pandemic.
“What I would say to any athlete that is feeling sad or having a hard time during this pandemic is to try to remember why you are doing the sport and don’t lose the love that you once had for it," she said. "Every little thing that you do now could end up becoming something really helpful in the long run.”
It goes without saying that the TMHS and the entire Tewksbury community is immensely proud of Makayla Paige and all she has accomplished. And it will be so exciting to see what she does next.