HAMBURG, N.Y. (WKBW) — Heart and passion with every step. It's how Aurora Smith has always run.
"It takes a lot of dedication and I like putting a lot of effort into the things I do," Smith said. "So I appreciate running for that reason."
Dedication and commitment that have helped Aurora succeed in athletics. The effort she puts in on the course and track carries over into her everyday life.
"Cross country's really hard and getting out there every day, the motivation is hard sometimes," she said. "But it helps in school to push through what i have to do and just keep going at what means the most to me."
The junior on the Hamburg cross country team is the type of teammate every coach wants. She's not always the top finisher but she has gotten consistently better, shaving minutes off her 5K time compared to her first ever meet back in the 8th grade. It wasn't easy, but the results have been valuable in so many ways.
"Everybody looks up to her," head coach Emily Izydorczak said. "She's the silent leader, the experienced athlete, and they can see how much work she puts into the program and how the work pays off."
"It really makes me happy seeing everyone on my team succeed and knowing I played a part in motivating them to come to practice," Smith added. "It means a lot to me."
Between the dedication after-hours and the desire to get better, Aurora's leadership shines through both on and off the course.
When students felt isolated and out of touch during the COVID-19 pandemic, she began a pen pal program between Hamburg high school and local elementary students. It was a way to communicate, a way to connect, and a way to form a new friend.
"When I was younger I really looked up to the older kids a lot and it would've meant a lot to me to get to know one," she said about her decision to start the program. "It really connected our Hamburg community."
It's that thoughtfulness and big heart that makes Aurora who she is; a natural born leader and the best example of a student-athlete.
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