Saratoga Springs stu­dent Ellie Siebe­neck

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Sarato­gian staff

Ellie Siebe­neck is a se­nior at Saratoga Springs High School. She is a mem­ber of the Girls’ Var­sity Ten­nis Team and plays soc­cer for Saratoga-Wil­ton Soc­cer Club.

Siebe­neck works as a a soc­cer coach for the Saratoga Recre­ational De­part­ment and vol­un­teers at St. Cle­ments Catholic Church’s SNAC pack Pro­gram. Siebe­neck is in­volved with the Act With Re­spect Al­ways pro­gram founded by lo­cal coach Rich Johns.

Q: How did you meet Coach Rich Johns?

A: “I met Coach Johns as a ris­ing sev­enth-grader on the first day of Girls’ Var­sity Ten­nis try­outs. I can still re­mem­ber how ner­vous and in­tim­i­dated I was by the older girls on the team. Coach Johns came right up to me and in­tro­duced him­self and the other mem­bers of the team. I im­me­di­ately felt much more re­laxed and com­fort­able know­ing that he was there, look­ing out for me if I needed any­thing.

“Now, 6 years later, Coach con­tin­ues to come sup­port our team con­stantly and to this day, see­ing him still calms my nerves if I’m in a close match!”

Q: How did you hear about Act With Re­spect Al­ways?

A: “Be­fore meet­ing Coach Johns, I had al­ways seen signs and posters around Saratoga, but it wasn’t un­til Coach Johns spoke to our ten­nis team on the first few days of prac­tice that I learned the full ex­tent of Coach’s pro­gram… As soon as he be­gan to talk, I could im­me­di­ately see that the older girls had the up­most re­spect for him and the mes­sage that he was shar­ing.

“Af­ter he was done, he gave us all wrist­bands that many of the girls con­tin­ued to wear through­out the sea­son as a con­stant re­minder of Coach and his mis­sion.”

Q: How has the Act With Re­spect Al­ways mis­sion af­fected you per­son­ally?

A: “The Act With Re­spect Al­ways mis­sion has not only af­fected me on the court, but off the court as well. Just last sea­son, we were able to put up Saratoga Ten­nis ban­ners with Coach’s mes­sage on them on our home courts. Dur­ing my matches, I al­ways try to achieve “my 99” by mak­ing good line calls and be­ing re­spect­ful to my op­po­nents, win or lose!

“On a larger scale, Coach Johns’s pro­gram has caused me to be­come far more con­sci­en­tious about not be­ing so quick to judge others, and al­ways be­ing the best per­son I can be.”

Q: How have you, or how will you in the fu­ture pay it for­ward?

A: “Coach Johns and his mes­sage has in­spired me to “Pay it For­ward” and give back in my own com­mu­nity. Af­ter learn­ing about his mis­sion, I have be­come a vol­un­teer at St. Cle­ments Catholic Church’s SNAC pack pro­gram. This amaz­ing or­ga­ni­za­tion helps pre­pare food­filled back­packs for un­der-priv­i­leged chil­dren within our school district to take home for the week­end.

“Ad­di­tion­ally, I have had the in­cred­i­ble op­por­tu­nity to travel to Cusco, Peru and Ac­cra, Ghana to vol­un­teer in their com­mu­ni­ties. Each trip, I have worn my Act With Re­spect Al­ways bracelet, and con­se­quently have had the chance to ex­plain what the Act With Re­spect Al­ways pro­gram is and what it means to me.

“See­ing the smil­ing faces on these chil­dren who have so lit­tle has made me so grate­ful for all of my bless­ings and has thus mo­ti­vated me to con­tinue to share Coach’s mes­sage wher­ever I go in life!

Q: How would you de­scribe the Act With Re­spect Al­ways mis­sion to others?

A: “The Act With Re­spect Al­ways mis­sion has been, and con­tin­ues to be an in­spi­ra­tion to me. It has taught me to al­ways have self-re­spect as well as to al­ways re­spect those around me. It has trained me to be less judg­men­tal of my­self and others and en­cour­aged me to al­ways try to be the big­ger per­son. Coach’s mes­sage of “What’s Your 99% To­day?” has kept me con­scious of my ac­tions and how they could po­ten­tially af­fect others.

“It has also al­lowed me to look be­yond what is on the “out­side,” and fo­cus on see­ing ev­ery­one’s true char­ac­ter. Coach’s mis­sion shares very im­por­tant life lessons that are es­sen­tial to cre­at­ing a kinder, and more re­spect­ful world for to­mor­row.”

PHOTO PRO­VIDED

Ellie Siebe­neck is a se­nior at Saratoga Springs High School.

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