‘Dedicated’ to her craft
Warren’s Paris to compete in track and field at Alfred State
“You have to be dedicated.”
Of all the words Teagan Paris shared about herself, these are ones she lives by the most.
As an athlete, a teammate and a person.
Any team would be lucky to have her, and that will be the Alfred State University track and field team beginning this fall.
“When I was younger, I always wanted to be a basketball player, in college and in the WNBA,” said Teagan, a recent Warren Area High School graduate. “College track only came into the picture about a week before Easter break this year. I actually was set on Pittsburgh Vet Tech Institute. My mom was the one that pushed me to look at Alfred and I fell in love with the campus and knew I wanted to go there. Track came into my plan when I was sitting there after we won D10 in basketball, thinking this can’t be it for me. I need more. I need to play in college; so I called Mark Sweet and said, ‘hey, be honest, could I be a college athlete?’ He said ‘absolutely,’ and that started the process.”
Everything seems to be a process to Teagan.
“Extremely introspective” is one way to put it, according to her mom, Trish.
“She has a strong moral compass,” said Trish. “She faces challenges head-on (both academically and athletically), is very determined, and by far one of the hardest workers you will meet. She’s also been an excellent teammate who knows her strengths and weaknesses both in basketball and track and is always looking to improve herself, as well as encourage others. I can safely say she has exceeded expectations in both school and sports. I couldn’t be more proud of her and can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
Exceeding expectations has been made possible by Teagan’s dedication.
“Teagan is one of a kind,” said Lisa LaVan, her high school basketball coach. “From day one, all she wanted to do was work hard and be a great teammate. She did that every day she was in the gym. She accepted her role every year. She worked hard to fulfill that role and carve out an even better one. She was always supportive of her teammates and will have great success at Alfred State. We do not win our D10 championship this year without Teagan Paris. Not as a superstar, but as a big-time contributing role player.”
It hasn’t been easy.
“In basketball, I struggled,” said Teagan. “It didn’t come easy to me when I was younger. I was uncoordinated and not good. Basketball taught me that, no matter what, you keep pushing. No matter what your role is, you fill it and then some. Always fight for the next step.”
As great a teammate as she is, “I think I prefer individual because, when I have an off day in either sport, I’m hard on myself,” said Teagan. “Track allows me to be on a team, but still have off days without affecting the team as much.”
There’s still a lot of room for introspection.
“Track is very technical, especially for my events,” she said. “Between 100 hurdles, triple jump, 4-by-1 and javelin, I was always running at practice. Hurdles, I have done since seventh grade and I still don’t have every single movement perfect.”
“Javelin, I actually just started this year and I practice three or four times a week, and I ended up qualifying for districts and still have room for improvement,” Paris added. “Track makes me drive to be the best I can because there are always PRs to beat. There is always someone to catch.
“The hardest part about learning all my events is time management,” said Teagan. “I would go to triple jump and jump a few times, then I’d hear Kevin (Dustin, Warren’s track coach) call my name to go to 4-by-1, then I’d sprint over to hurdles, and then I’d leave practice and meet my javelin coach at Betts (Park) for 45 minutes. There’s just so much to do and so little time; you have to be dedicated.”
Paris said she’ll be competing for the NCAA Division III Pioneers as a 100-meter hurdler, javelin thrower and a possible alternate on the 4-by-100 relay team.
That doesn’t mean she will forget what she’s accomplished.
“Highlights of my track career were medaling at D10, lettering all three years that I could compete (due to COVID), and qualifying for districts my first year in javelin,” said Teagan. “Some low points were not having the times at the beginning of this year as I did the end of sophomore year, learning how to four-step in hurdles, and fouling all three triple jumps at the first meet this year; it happens to the best of us.”
No doubt her teammates won’t forget her.
“I will miss playing with Emma Ruhlman, Riley Childress and Kelsey Stuart, who I’ve played basketball with since fourth grade,” said Teagan. “I’ll miss laughs and pushing each other with Gracie Gatto, Laney Gatto and Kyleigh Wilson during track practice.”
Part of what the future holds includes veterinarian technology.
“I chose this my sophomore year of high school and, after shadowing at Kinzua Vet Clinic, I knew I wanted to do that the rest of my life,” she said. “(Along with playing a college sport,) being in shape makes you perform better in school as well.”
Her dedication — wherever it comes from — will serve her and others well.
“Bev Hultman is my inspiration,” said Teagan. “Most people don’t know her but, if you did, you’d be amazed. She is a relative of mine who owns a sheep farm. She puts everything she can into that farm and works all day long even when she’s tired. She has gone through a knee surgery this Christmas and she still keeps working. She’s the sweetest and most caring little lady you’ll know. She’s been retired for more then 15 years and is still taking care of the animals all day. And just seeing her get up and help on a farm for as many years as she has inspires me to do all things I thought I couldn’t.”