Society tries to shove people into stereotypical molds. Fortunately, not everyone conforms to these casts, such as Coupeville High School seniors Amanda d’Almeida and Cole Weinstein.
Both are teenagers but not slackers. Both are outstanding athletes but not dumb jocks. Both are exceptional students but not nerds.
When Coupeville High School graduates its seniors June 7, d’Almeida and Weinstein will lead the academic parade. D’Almeida is set to finish with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, Weinstein closes out his career with a lofty 3.993.
While “A’s” array their transcripts, blue ribbons and gold metals decorate they scrap books.
D’Almeida is an all-conference soccer player and district tennis champion. Weinstein is one of the area’s top swimmers, twice qualifying for the USA Swimming Western Regional which features the best swimmers from 10 Western states.
The pair’s hard work paid off, earning acceptance into colleges acclaimed for their academic excellence. D’Almeida is headed to Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., while Weinstein is set to attend Whitman College in Walla Walla.
And, not surprisingly, d’Almeida will play soccer at Carleton and Weinstein will swim at Whitman.
Athletics ate up much of their time during high school. Besides competing on her high school soccer and tennis teams, d’Almeida played Premier soccer year-around on a team based out of the Lynnwood area. She traveled to Lynnwood twice a week for practice, then it was more practice or games on the weekends.
Weinstein, like most serious swimmers, posts a rigorous workout schedule. He practices about 20 hours per week, working out every day but Sunday. Three days a week he will double up and also practice in the morning.
How did they do it? How, when most teenagers are more concerned about Adele than algebra, more concerned about sleeping in than sweating, did they excel without missing out on the social aspects of life so important to young people.
“Don’t procrastinate and time management,” d’Almeida said. “Dedication and hard work; I put 110 percent in all I do. It was homework on Saturday, game on Sunday as well as a lot of homework in the car.”
For her, school always came first: “I set a goal of a 4.0 before setting a goal to play college soccer. I’m definitely a student-athlete with student before athlete.”
Weinstein said, “The trick to staying balanced between swimming, school and everything else is keeping yourself organized. It can be tough to fit it all in, but you have to prioritize and challenge yourself to keep up your work ethic not only in the pool but in school as well.”
Neither believes he or she missed out on “just being a teenager.”
D’Almeida said playing on the soccer team with her friends helped "overcome the loss of social time.”
Weinstein said, “I have been very dedicated to swimming for a long time and it is something I love to do. I don't think of it is as missing out but spending time doing something I really enjoy and strive to get better at.”
Coupeville High School teacher Dan d’Almeida, Amanda’s father and high school soccer coach, said, “I am proud of her. I’ve seen the effort, her sacrifice of a lot of free time.”
He said as a high school teacher, he sees many gifted students with the raw talent of Amanda and Cole, but “that alone doesn’t get your there.” He added, “You have to take your talents and let them flourish.”
Amanda d’Almeida, in her typical strive for getting it right, visited nearly 25 colleges before settling on Carleton.
She said, “Everyone said ‘you will just know’ when you find the right college. With Carleton, I could see myself there.”
In a stroke of good luck, she will be paired with soccer coach Jocelyn Keller, something d’Almeida didn’t think would happen. D’Almeida met Keller at a soccer camp three years ago and saw her as someone she would like to play for collegiately, but Keller’s school, Earlham, wasn’t a good fit.
Keller, however, accepted the Carleton job a week before d'Almeida visited the campus on the way home from a tournament in Chicago.
Keller said “the stars aligned.”
Keller said, “I initially was drawn to Amanda as a player because she has a presence on the field…I recruit and invest in young women who I see staying committed and engaged for the four years during their collegiate experience. Amanda is just that.”
Ken Stange, CHS tennis coach said, "She has been such a positive influence for the past four years. It's not just her playing, either. Yes, she was the top player on the team for the past few seasons, and I did appreciate the almost guaranteed win she provided each and every match. What I truly appreciated about Amanda was the level of dedication she gave to a sport that, frankly, was pretty low on her priority list."
D’Almeida's career goal is to be a pediatrician or surgeon and to do service work, like Doctors Without Borders or Mercy Ship.
Weinstein hasn’t decided on a career, but athletically his goal is to qualify for the NCAA swimming championships.
With outstanding high school careers in their wakes, it’s not hard to envision where the Coupeville graduates are headed.
Effort. Focus. Responsibility. Commitment. D’Almeida. Weinstein. They all seem to go together.
They all seem to add up – to success.