In the spotlight this week is student-athlete Lydia Benitez, an Auburn High senior who plays lacrosse and runs cross-country for the Tigers.
Auburn Villager: When did you get your start playing lacrosse?
Lydia Benitez: I started in seventh grade. I've been playing since then.
AV: How did you get into the sport?
LB: A friend invited me to practice one night, and I just loved it ever since.
AV: What do you like about playing lacrosse?
LB: I like the team atmosphere, and our coaches are great. We get to play teams from all over the state, so it's neat.
AV: What's the biggest challenge?
LB: I think just lacrosse isn't very popular in the South, so trying to just spread lacrosse and get to play teams that aren't so experienced.
AV: Did you have anyone show you the ropes that you consider a role model?
LB: Yes. I think a couple seniors when I was on the team in seventh grade, they really were good role models. A couple of them went to college for lacrosse, and so I've tried to follow in their footsteps.
AV: How did you get into running cross-country?
LB: I got into it in seventh grade. The junior high practices I just found really fun. They were super relaxed, and we would just go run. And then when I moved up to varsity, it started to become a little more serious, but my teammates were still just great people, unique people that really care for everyone on the team, so I just kept on doing it.
AV: What kind of preparations do you have to make to run cross-country?
LB: Our cross-country practices usually start in June, and we run throughout the summer on long runs and do workouts. And then our official season starts when school starts. But we're running throughout the summer in the hot weather.
AV: How do you prepare yourself mentally for running those long distances?
LB: I think you just have to understand that it's a full-body sport. You have to take care of your body with sleep and your eating and train hard at the same time. And it just takes a lot of determination and motivation mentally to run.
AV: As senior, do you know yet what you're going to do after graduation?
LB: I don't know where I'm going yet, but wherever I go I hope to continue to run and maybe play some intramural sports. I love running on my own, so hopefully I'll continue to do that in college.