GLADWIN – Something about the student athletes of Gladwin County always makes me feel good about our future. I have had the opportunity to interview many and always come away impressed. Mara Pellerito is no exception. I always ask the student athlete if there is something that they would like to see in an article. Most of the time I catch them off guard and they can’t immediately come up with anything. Mara caught me off guard.
After thinking about the question for a few seconds she said that she would like to thank all of her coaches and teachers. “We didn’t get a chance to do that with how the year ended. We left off on such a weird note.” She wasn’t feeling sorry for herself, but rather was sorry that she was unable to thank those who have meant so much to her over the years.
I guess that I should not have been surprised. After talking to her for a while it was obvious that she was more than just an athlete in school. Her favorite high school experiences were being part of the student section at games and cheering on her classmates along with being part of clubs such as the National Honor Society (NHS) and Key Club.
Pellerito was the secretary of the National Honor Society. Like the Key Club it’s main focus is community involvement. “Being part of the NHS was one of the highlights of my high school career,” said Pellerito. “After working multiple blood drives I was inspired to donate. Now I donate every time.” The Gladwin NHS has also been involved with local food drives. “With what’s going on right now you realize how important they are.” She also enjoyed decorating the Christmas Kindness bus for the Gladwin Christmas Parade.
The Key Club is an international service club affiliated with the Kiwanis Club. The Gladwin high school group participates in several activities each year. One is the Trick or Treat for UNICEF which raises money to improve the lives of children. Members collect money on Halloween, which goes directly to the organization. The Key Club also sells Roses on Valentines and Sweetest Days and donates the money to the Kiwanis. They also ring bells for the Salvation Army.
A leadership role with the Aviary is another way in which Mara helps out her school and community. She and Brianna Shea along with Rene Brumm, Sydney Conley, and Mario Sangret-Savalle run the program, which provide hygiene products and clothes to students in need. The group collects donations locally and makes them available at school.
On top of all of her other extra-curricular activities Mara still has time to duel sport in the spring, competing on both the soccer and track teams. This spring would have been her fourth straight year of doing both. According to soccer Coach Jerome Smalley, “she has been a valuable part of our soccer program for the past six years. Even before she entered high school Mara was a manager.”
Soccer is her favorite sport. She has been a starter since her freshman year when she debuted as a stopper. Her freshman and sophomore years also coincided with Gladwin’s last two district championships. It was during her sophomore year when she took on the role of captain for the first time. A late season injury to one of the captains gave her the opportunity to take on a leadership role. A role she also held during her junior year.
She switched positions to center-mid for her junior year. “I was able to play Mara in different positions because of her keen understanding of the game,” said Smalley. “Also Mara worked to be in the best possible shape for soccer; no one ever out worked her. She is very competitive but still a great teammate. Her work ethic was a great motivator for the entire team. Mara will be missed. “
Pellerito runs the middle distances races on the track team, this includes the 400 meter, 800 meter and occasionally the mile. Track Coach Kernie Gilliam echoed Smalley when he said, “Mara is a true competitor, any time we put her on the track we knew we were going to get her best effort. One of her greatest assets is the ability to work hard. Very few people could out work her during practice.”
After finishing her high school career with a 4.0 GPA and in the Top 10, Mara will be off to the University of Michigan (UM) in the fall. At this point she has not decided on a major, but after duel enrolling throughout high school she has completed a lot of her general education requirements. By applying to the College of Literature, Science and the Arts she does not have to declare a major until her junior year. This will give her plenty of time to explore her options.
She will be joining older brother Jack at the UM. He is a junior majoring on Material Science Engineering. Her oldest sibling Cobi is a photographer and fishing guide, another brother; Fisser attends Mid Michigan College studying Criminal Justice. While her educational goals are still up in the air I wouldn’t be surprised if she gravitated to some type of community service/educational field. During our interview she talked about the Botany class she took as a junior and how much she enjoyed helping out in the class as a senior.
Somewhere along the way I learned that she also loves to write and I asked her to write a letter of her own to fellow 2020 graduates. She thought it was good idea and her letter follows.