Despite not competing in Track and Field until her Lower Spring, Andover Outdoor Track and Field Co-Captain Abbie Cheng ’23 found an immediate passion for pole vaulting. This passion has led Cheng to delve deeper into the sport, where she found a supportive community that encouraged her to create connections with her teammates.
“What’s so special about track is that we have all these different grades, all these different little groups that we can create these little communities to make up this bigger one. So inclusivity in terms of knowing people’s names, getting to know them off of the track, and making people feel seen for not just their accomplishments, but also the other ways that they contribute to the team with spirit and just being compassionate in general,” said Cheng.
Kendall Toth ’24 admired Cheng’s devotion to her event and the support of her teammates. According to Toth, Cheng never fails to lead by example and often emphasizes the importance of taking care of oneself.
“Abbie is extremely hard-working and caring. She does a really good job setting an example, taking care of herself, and, therefore, demonstrating that to her teammates. She is a role model to me and all of the team, putting in work even when no one is watching. She puts the team first, cheering everyone on and supporting everyone,” wrote Toth in an email to The Phillipian.
More specifically to her event, Cheng enjoys meeting new athletes each season who join the pole vaulting event. Not only does this allow her to find friendship with new teammates, but also, provides Cheng with the opportunity to coach her fellow pole vaulters through tough mental blocks.
“In terms of the pole vault team, obviously every term it’s great to rebuild the team because a lot of pole vaulters don’t continue between seasons so we have to rebuild the community and culture. This season I especially want to involve more off-track talks about pressures and dealing with the mental side of pole vaulting because I feel like that’s something we don’t talk about a lot, but it’s super important and can even be more important than the physical part of pole vaulting at times,” said Cheng.
Toth appreciates Cheng’s approachability and ability to keep a positive attitude through challenging moments in the season. Cheng constantly reaches out to her teammates in order to make them feel heard and respected, according to Cheng.
“She cheers for every event and gives so much energy during practices and meets. She checks in with her teammates which is really appreciated, always genuinely asking us how we are doing. She’s really easy to talk to and be around, spreading positivity. She’s very real and honest with herself and others, which is admirable. She’s so inspiring and motivates everyone around her. She takes the time to reach out to teammates in different event groups than her own, learning people’s names and making them feel part of the team,” wrote Toth.
According to Jazzy Cormier ’24, Cheng makes it her goal to see every event possible during meets and cheer on all of her teammates. Her enthusiasm spreads throughout the team, motivating each athlete to compete at their best, mentioned by Cormier..
“She’s always running around at the meets, trying to touch on every event and support sprints and long events and throws and things like that. It’s just nice that she’s always supporting the other events even though pole vault is her main event. She’s also very supportive to the other events. And in general, she’s always very enthusiastic and kind. I know when I first came or when I first joined last year, she was super welcoming,” said Cormier.