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from supernerd to superstar « Jocelyn Wong's Blog


from supernerd to superstar

Last weekend I missed my high school’s 10-year reunion in favor of training with a pretty good triathlon team and a pretty okay triathlon coach here in Switzerland.  ;)

To commemorate this momentous occasion for the Westmoor High School class of 1999, I had my dad scan some photos from the old high school track scrapbook.

this awesome photo is circa 1995

this awesome photo is circa 1995

as you can see…long before the Wongstar was a superstar, she was a supernerd.  I had the glasses and braces my first two years, got straight A’s and always had my hand up in the air in class.  I was worse than Hermione in Harry Potter; sometimes I would correct my math teachers if I caught any mistakes on the chalkboard.  School and homework came easily to me, which was good because I had the stereotypical Chinese parents who would get very upset if any of us ever got a B+.  Actually, getting an A- was only barely acceptable.

look Coach Im heel-striking!!  Im heel-striking!

look Coach I'm heel-striking!! I'm heel-striking!

What I absolutely loved was running on the cross country and track team.  Running didn’t come so easily, maybe that’s what drew me to it–the challenge.  My older sister was the one who wanted to be a runner, I ended up joining as well because she was my childhood hero.  I wanted to be just like her!  Even though by high school, we pretended we didn’t know each other in the hallways.  During one of my first summer practices my freshman year, I totally puked after we did hill repeats on the Fort Funston sand dunes in San Francisco.  Coach DiMaggio gave me a big pep talk because he thought I was going to quit the team after that incident.  Quitting had never occurred to me, and wow was my big sister mortified!  It was great!

I think Im still prepubescent here.

I think I'm still prepubescent here.

Being on the track team taught me to work hard and be disciplined.  (I didn’t get that from school and homework because like I said…it came easily to a nerd like me.)  Even though I wasn’t the most talented distance girl on the team, I had more passion and a stronger work ethic than my teammates who were naturally faster, and I would find myself catching them in the second half of each season.  I ended up being a top varsity runner during my four years of high school, but this was the big fish/small pond syndrome and I have no big delusions of grandeur.  I was decent in our league, but I was well aware that California was and is a hotbed of top-notch prep runners.  I never made it to any of the state meets, and I knew my running talent wasn’t good enough to get me a college scholarship.

running a sub-six-minute mile

running a sub-six-minute mile

So back to the supernerd part.  I went on to become co-valedictorian with an SAT score over 1500, and got accepted into every college I applied to with plenty of offers for academic scholarships.  I knew what the college admissions people were looking for: someone smart and “well-rounded.”  So in addition to being a runner, I was also in the Symphonic Band (I played the flute but no, I never made it to band camp, got chickenpox that summer instead), twirled rifles in the color guard, and was an officer in both the Science Club and Chinese Club.  Maybe that is how I ended up becoming so good at marketing myself as a future superstar…

I was such an overachiever, but hey…fast forward 10 years or so and at my first TBB camp in Subic, Mat tells me quite matter-of-factly, “Our team is full of overachievers.”  And here I am again, not one of the most talented athletes on the team, but I have the passion and a strong work ethic.  Some things never change.  But at least I look a little cooler now.

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