Student athletes explain pressures involved with having parents featured on Wall of Fame


Olivia Childress

Emma Cappella, sophomore and cross-country runner stands next to a photo of her mother, Allison ‘Bailey’ Cappella (second on the right, front row). Capella won state runner up in 1990.

Sarah Kim

Cross-country running, like many other sports, is an activity that children often begin at a young age. With programs such as Pups Running, elementary school students who participate often feed into the high school teams. For many of those students, like Emma Cappella, cross-country runner and sophomore, that introduction to a sport often comes from parental influence. Emma’s mother, Allison (Bailey) Cappella ‘91, was a varsity cross-country runner during her years at CHS. In fourth grade, Emma joined Pups running; however, unlike many of her teammates, she did not continue the sport in middle school. With her mother’s previous successes in the sport in mind, Emma said she decided to rejoin cross-country as her freshman year came underway.

Olivia Chidress
Emma Cappella, sophomore and cross country runner, stretches before practice. Capella’s mother, Allison Bailey is on the wall of fame.

Emma explained why she joined the high school cross-country team.

“My mom told me about cross-country and it just sounded really cool, the experiences she described. And also a big part of it came from knowing a lot of people that do this sport and seeing them succeed, including my mom.”

Mrs. Cappella and her team placed second at State her junior year. With those successes, the women’s cross-country team was put on the “sports wall of fame.”

Like Emma and her mom, many other students at our school attempt to continue the family legacy with sports. Athletics Director Jim Inskeep explained that the number of students in high school who play the same sports as their family members is quite large.

“It is really common, from cross-country runners to swimmers,” he said. “We have several examples at this school. A lot of our kids have parents or siblings who played the same sport, whether it be at Carmel or other schools they may have attended.”

Mrs. Cappella explained the impact she believes she has on her daughter.

“I think she appreciates the cross-country traditions from the past that I can share with her, but I don’t think they impact her desire to compete,” she said. “I will say, I absolutely love watching her run and (being) a part of an experience that brought me so much joy in high school. I do think my past experience running for Carmel impacts how I cheer for Emma. I know first hand cross-country is incredibly difficult and has a huge mental component. I try to encourage Emma to set personal goals and push through adversity to achieve her own goals. I’m so proud of her for working hard toward pursuing her goals that I try to focus on encouraging her and building her up. I don’t think I put pressure on her, but I do expect her to always give it her best and to never ever quit.”

But while Mrs. Cappella said she doesn’t want to add pressure to her daughter, some athletes, like Susie Soderstrom, varsity soccer player and sophomore, said they feel it anyway. Susie’s sister, Katie Soderstrom ‘18, was on the wall for her success on  the women’s soccer team.

Susie described the impact that her sister’s legacy had on her. “My sister is the only person that plays soccer in my family, and she’s really good, so I feel like I have to be as good as her,” she said.

Inskeep said that students can feel a variety of pressures from playing sports, “Whether it be pressure from home, pressure they put on themselves to be successful. Kids that get involved in sports, not unlike performing arts, start because they have a passion for it and for some that passion continues to grow or stays the same and for other student athletes that passion may start to wane a little bit too. Especially when you begin to see that conflict in terms of the pressure to perform and when there starts to be a letdown between results and expectations,” he said.

But for her part, Emma said having the idea of a family legacy and a Carmel legacy really motivates her.

“Knowing that my mom ran here really inspires me; it pushes me to do better for the Carmel legacy,” she said. “I always think my mom was great when she was here and she made the school great and I really want to do too.”