Kristen Lodge: Hard work pays off for Grand County teen |

Kristen Lodge: Hard work pays off for Grand County teen

Kristen Lodge / Outdoor Adventures
Grand County, CO Colorado
Photo by Maggie KellerBrittany Herndon on the Escalante River in Utah.

There is always that girl in high school that inspires others by their quiet confidence and lead-by-example type of leadership, that person who inspires us to be better and go beyond what we think we are capable of doing.

In my high school Stephanie King was that girl. She was the hardest working player on the varsity basketball team and led her teammates by example. We became friends and she took me under her wing. We would play one-on-one, and she invited me to pick-up games with better players during the offseason. She helped me believe in myself and that notion that if I worked harder, I would improve.

When I met Brittany Herndon last month to talk about sports and outdoor adventures, she reminded me of Stephanie.

Brittany lives in Grand Lake and attends Middle Park High School. She plays volleyball, participates in Adventure Education trips, hikes, and on weekends plays soccer, basketball, and runs.

As a member of the Junior Varsity Volleyball Team at Middle Park High School, Brittany says it’s hard and she has to work at it. Tami Cherrington, freshman volleyball coach, says this about Brittany: “When I ask Brittany to hit with the freshmen she stays as long as needed. It’s hard to find someone who will do something and follow through. When other athletes leave, she stays behind to help. She’s always the last to leave.”

Cherrington says Brittany needs to be tougher and to stick up for herself. “It’s true,” Brittany rebuts. “It’s a learning thing, I’ll get there.”

Maggie Keller, trip leader for the Adventure Education Program says this about Brittany: “If something needs to be done Brittany is the first to help. She leads by example and you can count on her for anything. ” Maggie admires her work ethic, “She gets up early, runs with her dog, works at her family’s restaurant, and when she goes to sports camp she earns her way. It illustrates how hard she works and absorbs so much from the experience.”

As I talk to Brittany in the high school gym, asking questions about school, life, and outdoor adventures, I’m struck by her quiet way of speaking and her passion for work, school, and athletics. She participates in the Outdoor Education trips and loves all aspects of the program: “You go to the pre-trip meetings and learn survival skills and how to layer properly to prevent hypothermia. The trip taught me to think in a group and in the process I came out of my shell. ”

One of the stories she likes to tell is how she won an award during the Adventure Education’s canyoneering trip: “While we are hiking I would hike to the front of the line and talk to people. Then I would hike to the back of the line to make sure everyone was okay. I talked to everyone and helped them up some of the slippery banks. I got the Puppy Dog Award.”

This weekend Brittany gets to prove to herself and her teammates that all her hard work has paid off since she moved up to the varsity team as the volleyball squad plays Eaton Classical Academy on Saturday, Nov. 6 in the Class 3A regional championship. The top two teams will advance to state.

Here’s to all the Brittany Herndons and Stephanie Kings of the world who lead by example and make us realize the value of hard work.

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