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Balancing Acts

Centerville High School student-athletes excel in both the classroom and in their chosen sports.

Article by Nina Weierman

Photography by Kelly Settle–Kelly Ann Photography

Originally published in Centerville Lifestyle

In the competitive world of high school sports, four outstanding Centerville High School students, Anna Gearhart, Emily Grim, Jonathan Powell and Zach Hartley, stand out for their dedication, passion and ability to balance academics and athletics. Each is pursuing a different sport and future path, yet their stories all exemplify the challenges and triumphs of being a student-athlete. GoElksAthletics.com

Anna Gearhart
Anna Gearhart, a senior at Centerville High School, is making waves both in the pool and in her academic pursuits. As a member of the varsity swim and dive team, Anna's journey began at the age of 10 when a local swim team victory sparked her passion. “I swam for a local summer swim team and won the 25-meter butterfly event and was super excited,” shares Anna. Her commitment is evident in her grueling daily schedule, including early morning lifting sessions and coaching for her swim team which has her waking as early as 4:30 a.m. 

Anna's standout moment was breaking the Centerville High School 100 fly record during her sophomore state swim meet, proving that dedication pays off. Looking ahead, Anna aspires to continue her athletic career at the University of Kansas, aiming for NCAA qualification and podium success at conference championships.

Anna advises student-athletes to be laser-focused on their goals while also finding ways to de-stress: “Being a student-athlete is never easy. Find something to take the stress off of your shoulders. You’ve gotten this far, don’t stop now.”

Zach Hartley
Zach Hartley is a senior with a passion for both bowling and golf. Introduced to bowling in sixth grade, Zach has embraced the competitive nature of bowling and loves having something to do in the winter when it’s not golfing season. 

His ability to balance the demands of sports and academics has helped him hone valuable time management skills, teaching him to work and study efficiently. “The most important strategy that helped me to excel in both academics and sports is being consistent with practice and schoolwork and using the weekends to make sure that I am getting all of my work done,” shares Zach. 

Being an integral part of a team has been beneficial to Zach in more ways than one. “Being part of a sports team has helped keep me busy and meet more people than I would have otherwise. My experiences have taught me how to get things done and work well with others, and have helped me become a better person overall,” shares Zach.

While Zach remains undecided about his future in bowling, he aspires to major in PGA golf management at Florida Gulf Coast University. He’s focused on keeping a well-rounded commitment to sports and academic growth as he prepares for the next chapter in his life.

Emily Grim
Senior varsity basketball player Emily Grim found her passion for the sport through her older sister's influence, sparking a competitive spirit that defines her daily routine. Juggling school and practice, Emily excels both on and off the court. One of Emily’s favorite experiences with her basketball team was the trip they took to Charleston, South Carolina for the Carolina Classic last winter. “We visited the beach and had a shell-finding competition. It was a great opportunity for some team bonding off the court,” says Emily. 

Looking toward the future, Emily has post-graduation plans to pursue a degree in biology at Marian University. As Emily continues to leave her mark on the court with Centerville, she sets her sights on further academic achievements, showcasing a commitment to growth and success in all aspects of her life. Emily’s advice for other student-athletes is simple: “You have to put in the work to get where you want to be in life. Nothing will be given to you.”

Jonathan Powell

Jonathan first played basketball at the tender age of three when his mother signed him up for a summer program. Now a senior on the varsity basketball team, the influence of his uncle plays a pivotal role, instilling the belief that through dedication, remarkable achievements are possible. Jonathan tests his dedication daily starting at 5:15 a.m. which includes early morning workouts, school, practice and homework.

Being part of a sports team in high school has not only contributed to on-court achievements but has also enriched Jonathan’s social skills and provided lessons in both success, failure and hard work. “Growing up, I always wanted to make it to the NBA, but I never understood the work ethic that was needed to get there. Uncle Rich helped me focus. Once I focused on myself and worked in silence, everything came to me slowly and I didn't let up,” says Jonathan.

As he prepares to embark on the next chapter at Xavier University, there's no doubt that Jonathan’s journey will continue to inspire others on and off the court. As for advice for other student-athletes, he has this to share: “Don't worry about what other people are doing and don't get caught up in the hype. Focus on becoming the best version of yourself.”

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