Being pushed to succeed isn’t something that Lisa Nygaard has really ever had a problem with. That’s evident by her across-the-board success at Monticello High School. But if she did need any extra motivation to push through her senior year, while simultaneously enjoying every moment of it, she found that motivation in an odd place – injury recovery.
Last year, just a couple of weeks into gymnastics season, Nygaard ruptured her Achilles tendon, forcing her to miss the rest of the gymnastics season and the whole track and field season.
“I had to watch the entire season go by,” said Nygaard. “I hated sitting and watching everybody. That pushed me so much harder this summer and fall to be back.”
She made it back, and has found that her recent hard work in rehabilitation, as well as her constant work in all else, has been rewarded. Nygaard was selected as the Monticello High School female recipient of the Minnesota State High School League 2013 Triple ‘A’ Award. The award, which honors performance in academics, arts and athletics seems customized for Nygaard.
The senior is not only a three-sport athlete, but a three-sport captain. It’s been proven in captain votes by teammates and in letters from teachers that Nygaard knows how to lead. It’s been proven on report card after report card that she knows how to thrive in the classroom, and it’s been proven at band concerts throughout the years that she is quite skilled on the flute. Mix all of that together, and you’ve got yourself an award winner.
“It’s really an honor,” said Nygaard. “I’ve worked really hard for the last 4 years, and it feels nice to be recognized.”
Besides rehabilitation, a high percentage of her hard work has gone into academics, which she clearly considers to be the most important part of the three A’s.
“School is just very important to me,” said Nygaard. “I tend to set high standards for myself. I try to push myself as hard as I can all the time.”
Pushing herself is evident in the classes she takes. She just finished up a semester that featured AP Calculus, College in School Composition, AP Biology and Wind Ensemble. And the high standards are equally evident in the results that come out of those classes. Despite a tough class load, and heavy extracuricular schedule, the senior is still carrying a 4.0 GPA as she enters the final semester of her high school career.
In a stressful schedule, band is one opportunity for her to take a deep breath and enjoy herself.
“Band is kind of my relaxing class of the day.” said Nygaard. “I like playing the flute, it’s nice and soothing.”
Meanwhile, sports offer her a chance to enjoy herself, even if they add to the business of her schedule.
“I really enjoy it,” said Nygaard about packing her schedule full. “Sometimes I do get really overwhelmed and stressed, but in the long run it’s worth it. I really do like doing well in school, and I like playing all my sports and I like being in band.”
Recently, her hard work has paid off numerous times, including the choice of her as captain for all three of her sports, two of which were chosen by team votes.
“It’s an honor,” she said. “I enjoy helping people and being the person they can come talk to.”
Her work as a leader has even extended beyond the athletic fields to the point where it’s being noticed by teachers, including Holly Herman, Nygaard’s English teacher, and the author of a staff letter of recommendation for the senior.
“I have gotten to know her in her writing this year and marvel at how mature she is,” wrote Herman. “Lisa takes her leadership in her athletic events seriously. She is the girls’ cheerleader, councilor, friend, and confidant.”
For Nygaard, it’s clear to an outside observor, she is driven to find success in all that she does. And that alone would likely be worthy of recognition in the form of this award. But when you look closely, you notice that she is just as driven to make sure that those around her succeed. And that’s what really makes her stand out.
“I always encourage [people] to be the best they can be,” said Nygaard. “I think that’s what a leader is, helping [people] achieve things.”
Contact Clay Sawatzke at firstname.lastname@example.org