U.S. Gold Medal Olympian Amanda Polk returned to Oakland Catholic High School on Thursday, September 8th to speak with the student body about her road to the 2016 Rio Games.
Polk is a 2004 graduate of Oakland Catholic, and took time after her Olympic win to return to her alma mater to speak to students about her rowing career. Fittingly, it all started at Oakland Catholic.
Polk joined the crew team as a sophomore, using it as a way to stay in shape for basketball in the off-season. Although she was a great basketball player, it became clear that she had passion and talent for the water. Her highly successful rowing career at Oakland Catholic led Amanda to the University of Notre Dame, where she remains the most decorated rower in the history of the program for the school.
Amanda explained that her gold medal win at the 2016 Rio Olympics with the U.S. Women's Coxed Eight boat was the culmination of many years of hard work and focus. She had doubts and encountered setbacks, but ultimately stayed driven, determined not to give up on her goal of an Olympic medal.
The assembly included speeches by Oakland Catholic President, Mary Claire Kasunic, as well as George Rudolph, the Athletic Director at Oakland Catholic when Amanda was a student. They both praised Amanda for continuing to be who they knew her as when she attended OC, a smart, talented and personable individual who embodies the qualities of an Oakland Catholic woman.
Representatives from the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, and the Mayor's Office, read proclamations during the assembly, declaring the day to be "Amanda Polk Day."
Students had the chance to ask Amanda questions about her journey, her training regimen, and her favorite food on cheat days (cookies n' cream ice cream, if anyone asks). A few students even got the chance to hold her gold medal!
The assembly was a fantastic way for students to connect with one of their own. It was apparent by the amount of students lined up to ask questions or request pictures that Amanda inspired students with the message to pursue their most passionate ambitions.
Amanda Polk, OCHS '04, poses with members of the current OC Student Body.
Of course, Amanda couldn't leave without leading the Oakland Catholic student body in the OC Victory cheer!
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