Abigail Smith - All Northside - All State
By Alicja Ramotowski
Northside is a school widely known for its many academic achievements. Though athletic abilities are not a trademark of the school, there are many well rounded students that excel in both areas.
The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) is the organization that Northside belongs to, which organizes the majority of the schools athletic programs and competitions. Every year, 26 students are selected—13 male and 13 female—to be part of the IHSA All-State Academic Team. All IHSA member schools in the state are able to nominate one female and one male student for the award. To qualify, students must have a minimum 3.50 gpa on a 4.0 scale, have participated in at least two IHSA sponsored activities within the last two years, and demonstrated exceptional citizenship. Nominees must then go through a selective application process which includes writing essays and filling out paperwork. Of the hundreds of qualified students, only 26 are chosen by a committee of IHSA officials. This year, one of the recipients was senior Abigail Smith, Adv. 902.
As a child, Smith and her siblings were encouraged by her parents to play sports and be active. In the fourth grade, the twin sisters started playing soccer at the AYSO level, on a team coached by their dad. The following year the Smith sisters began playing volleyball at their middle school and later at a club where their mom was involved. From very early on, athletics was a family ordeal in the Smith household; a way to spend time and have fun with each other.
Smith has played Women’s Volleyball, as well as Women’s Soccer at Northside, for the past four years—three years varsity volleyball, four years varsity soccer. For the past two years she has been the Women’s Varsity Volleyball captain, and has led her team to victory many times. Volleyball is a way to stay active, busy, and working hard every day for Smith and her sisters. It gives them the time and ability to bond and grow together, as well as meet new people and make friends.
Although soccer is something she enjoys—especially in high school—Smith admits it was never her favorite sport. Some of her previous club and school teams had a toxic environment; girls were mean to each other and brought themselves down. In fact, one of her favorite soccer experiences was playing on an all boys team in eighth grade. Ultimately, Smith considers volleyball as her favorite sport. “I think volleyball is my favorite sport, because it involves less thinking and more simple doing,” said Smith. “It’s also faster paced but less tiring somehow. Soccer takes a ton of energy and endurance that volleyball typically doesn’t. It’s also really satisfying to score in volleyball, whereas in soccer that doesn’t happen as often—which can get frustrating. But at the same time the goals are that much sweeter when they go in the back of the net.”
During her sophomore year, Smith earned an honorable mention from the all-sectional soccer team, and in her junior year earned a spot on the all-sectional team. Her volleyball achievements include an all tournament team nomination, academic achievement award her freshman and senior year, and the athletic achievement award her junior year. This year, however, Smith earned a place on the highly selective IHSA All-State Academic Team. A place on this team is no small feat and Northside should be honored to see one of their own get so far. On April 15, 2019, Smith and the other selected students are invited to attend a banquet in Bloomington with their families to celebrate their accomplishments.
Smith attributes her successes to her parents involvement and support in her athletic career, and her height; all their hard work paid off. Next year, Smith will attend Grinnell College—located in Grinnell, Iowa—with her twin sister, Sophie Smith. The pair was recruited before the end of junior year by Grinnell’s volleyball coach and will play for the school in the fall. If you dream long enough, work hard enough, and are tall enough, then you can do it!