Semester I Special: Runner Sonya Jampel learns lessons from sports


Sophomore Sonya Jampel competes with junior Evie Heffernan in the Bay State Conference Championships Saturday, Oct. 27 at Norwood.

The Newtonite

[media-credit name=”courtesy Jack Prior” align=”alignleft” width=”223″] Sophomore Sonya Jampel competes with junior Evie Heffernan in the Bay State Conference Championships Saturday, Oct. 27 at Norwood.
by Douglas Abrams
“Keep going and persevere,” said sophomore Sonya Jampel.
Jampel’s mother Sandra Marwill said that Jampel’s focus, perseverance and positive attitude has helped her become a nordic skier and a nationally ranked runner.
In 2007, Jampel joined the Waltham Track Club team, which is coached by Joe Tranchita, this school’s track coach. That same year, Jampel competed in her first national competition, Junior Nationals, and came in 11th.
Then in 2008 with Jampel’s help, the team ranked second in Nationals.
“My experiences competing at the national level were extremely humbling. At my middle school, I would always come in first in races, but at bigger events I wouldn’t,” said Jampel. “Those races taught me that you can always improve.”
Jampel said that being part of the Waltham Track Club has taught her leadership skills. “As one of the veteran members of the team, I would often help other kids with their running and encourage them.”
In 2011, Jampel again traveled to the Junior Olympics in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and competed Saturday, Dec. 10, running the cross country course. That year, her team won Nationals. Last year, Jampel came in 17th in the one-mile event, running it in 5:39.
According to Tranchita, “Jampel’s enjoyment of learning is the key to her success, separating her from other athletes her age. Sonya has a sincere desire to improve and to be the best that she can be. She is not afraid of doing hard work and even seeks it willingly to help her improve.
“But the key is that she genuinely enjoys running, being and becoming a better athlete, no matter what the activity.”
In addition to the Waltham Track Club, Sonya participates in cross country and outdoor track.
Overall, Jampel said she feels that racing for this school’s cross country team is just as challenging as racing for her club, despite the fact that it is not at the national level.
According to Jampel, her experience on this school’s cross country and outdoor track teams have been centered around personal improvement. “In cross country, our coach sometimes spends 40 minutes reading off each of our personal records,” she said. “It is so great to see myself improve.”
Additionally, Jampel said that she loves the team bonding involved in cross country and outdoor track.
Although Jampel’s main sport is running, she is also a successful nordic skier. As a freshman, she joined CSU, Cambridge Sports Union, a highly competitive skiing club. She currently competes with the club regionally. “Some of the kids on CSU are crazy––they work so hard.”
According to Jampel, CSU has taught her the importance of work ethic and independence, which has helped her as a student.
“On CSU they do this thing called the ‘Goal Pyramid.’ On the top part of the pyramid you write your goal and then underneath it you write what steps you’ll need to take to accomplish it. I’ve found myself applying the pyramid to my schoolwork,” said Jampel. “The pyramid makes you realize what it’ll take to get what you want, and more often than not, makes it more likely that you’ll do it.”
In addition to hard work, Jampel has learned about responsibility from CSU. “Through being on the team, I’ve had to step up in arranging rides, getting to practice on time and corresponding with my coaches because my parents started with as little information about skiing as I did, so they didn’t take control,” said Jampel. “This has made me feel more comfortable emailing teachers and peers.”
Despite the fact that Jampel has been running for longer than she has been skiing she said she is still deciding which is her favorite sport. “I love aspects of skiing, and I love aspects of running.”
Jampel also mentioned that she disliked the financial aspect of skiing. “I don’t really like that you need snow and equipment and money to ski. All you need to run is a road. The sport is a great equalizer. No matter what your background, you can run and see who’s fastest.”
Jampel said she has learned to be an athlete not just from her coaches and peers but from her family.
According to Jampel, one of the greatest forces behind her success is Marwill. She said that she encouraged Sonya to exercise from a young age. “When she was little, I pushed her in the stroller to the playground, and I would ask her if she wanted to jog beside me. Sometimes, she would jog with me all the way to the playground.”
Marwill said that Jampel has grown in confidence since she was younger. “As a kid she would always say: ‘Mom, I’m afraid to race.’ All I would ever say was: ‘Just don’t be afraid. Just don’t.’ And then, I would see her on the starting line ready to go.”