High-SchoolGirl: Bella Rutkowski

All-Star Spotlight: Go ahead and motivate

December, 15, 2011
12/15/11
2:42
PM ET
Every week in “All-Star Spotlight,” members of the ESPNHS All-Star team tackle a hot topic in high school sports. Today, Bella Rutkowski, a senior at Simsbury (Conn.), shows how hard work at practice can motivate the rest of your team.

Imagine your average girls’ high school sports team running its daily 2-mile warm-up run before practice.

high school
Courtesy of Bella RutkowskiBella Rutkowski is a senior at Simsbury (Conn.) and a member of the ESPNHS All-Star team.
When I imagine this scenario, I picture the majority of girls running together at an average pace, a couple lagging slightly behind, and those two or three girls that always have to be first. Well, during one of my field hockey seasons, I was one of those girls.

Now keep in mind, I was one of those girls only because my closest friend on the team pushed me to run as fast as I could and not give in to my body every time it told me I was about to die.

Over the course of that season I had mixed feelings about always being one of the first girls to return to the coach after the warm-up run.

On one hand, I was thankful that my friend dragged me (literally) through each of those runs and raised my standard of physical feats. I felt motivated and slightly smug when I would be one of the first girls to pass the guys’ soccer fields on the run back. I also felt extremely strong and confident in my running ability that season, and I probably had most of my best field hockey games that year due to my physical skill as well as my confident mental state.

On the other hand, however, being one of the first to finish something always ends up with you having stepped on some people’s toes along the way. Some girls were noticeably frustrated when I would beat them back to the starting point.

Luckily for me, over the course of the season all the girls became more motivated and we were all running alongside each other by the end of the season. The girls who had been running behind the group ended up becoming more motivated when pushed by us, their teammates, just like my friend had done for me.

Throughout this experience I’ve realized that when a team applies an effective strategy and makes it work for everyone, the result will be a positive one.

All-Star Spotlight: Life without sports

October, 27, 2011
10/27/11
3:55
PM ET
Every Tuesday and Thursday in “All-Star Spotlight,” members of the ESPNHS All-Star team tackle a hot topic in high school sports. Today, Bella Rutkowski, a senior at Simsbury (Conn.), explains her reasons for giving up organized sports as a junior and how fitness remains a priority.

I want to start this off by saying I'm not the world’s most competitive female athlete, nor am I Connecticut’s rising sports star, nor am I even the best athlete in my high school. I am a typical 17-year-old girl, interested in staying fit, spending time with my friends, building teamwork skills, blowing off some stress, and engaging in good-hearted competition; these are the main aspects of sports that I love.

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Courtesy of Bella RutkowskiBella Rutkowski is a senior at Simsbury (Conn.) and a member of the ESPNHS All-Star team.
My high school sports career started off with my freshman field hockey season. I had never played field hockey, much less be a part of a sports team at all, so it was a memorable experience to say the least. The season brought with it many firsts, like my first preseason conditioning workouts (run by the seniors, of course) and my first time being a member of a 16-girl family.

My freshman spring season, I gave lacrosse a try, and in sophomore year, I took part in my second year of field hockey.

During the spring of sophomore year, a great new opportunity was given to the female athletes at my high school. We were all finally able to play with the boys. A few of the boys’ rugby club coaches were eager to increase the sport’s popularity, so they recruited girls who would be willing to participate in rugby as well. Being the first Connecticut Girls High School Rugby Team was thrilling for all of us and gave us an experience we otherwise never would have had. Because I’m not a huge fan of soccer or cheerleading, rugby was a great way to get involved in something completely new and exciting.

Deciding whether or not to participate in a sport my junior year was complicated. I realized I had a lot more responsibility than the previous two years, especially as college hunting approached. Ultimately I decided not to participate in sports because of my crazy schedule.

Physical fitness has always been extremely important to me, so I still work out at home and at the gym. I have so much respect for girls who are able to balance school, a job and a sport, especially in their senior year.

Although I no longer play, I am still able to achieve all the amazing aspects of sports that I mentioned earlier. Working out individually allows me to stay fit and blow off stress, but I also really value the chance to work out with my friends. That keeps me motivated during the workout since I get to spend more quality time with them, doing something that benefits us all.

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