Summer break is an unforgettable time for many teenagers. Sharon Austin-Weinstein (7), however, had a summer experience different from most people her age.
“Over the summer I was with my friend and I jumped into her pool. I hit the ground [and] I broke my leg. I had to be in a cast for six months. When I first started walking, I had to have crutches just to help me since I didn’t walk for six months. That took me around two or three months to finally get back but then I had to do physical therapy. Now I am pretty much back to normal,” Austin-Weinstein said.
Unfortunately, there were some things in her day-to-day life that had to be altered. She also had to approach practicing for sports, like running and basketball, in a different way.
“I couldn’t go out because my wheelchair would be too much work [and] for school, [and] I couldn’t always walk around in case I fell down. I was afraid when I broke my leg, people would go away from me but nothing really changed. I’m [also] on the travel team when I’m not on the school [basket]ball team. I had a thing called an air cast which was just something that went over my leg. I would stand up and practice shooting free throws and something that I could do on one leg, so I never really like stopped playing. [But] the first time I ran it was not pretty so I kept working to build up my muscle mass and it just came natural to me to start running again,” Austin-Weinstein said.
Even after almost a year in recovery, Austin Weinstein still managed to keep a positive outlook on things.
“I feel good about myself for just getting through it and working up to where I am now. [What kept me motivated was] knowing it’s only temporary and I’ll get back to the things I am used to doing. It’s not a permanent thing,” Austin-Weinstein said.
The Lake Central Centralettes hosted their annual dance clinic on Jan. 29. While still making time for laughs and smiles, the clinic gave the younger girls a chance to be a Centralette for a day.
“The Centralettes have always been tremendous ambassadors of goodwill for LCHS. This goodwill exists not only because of our achievements both locally and nationally, but because selflessness and mentoring are as important today as they were 20 years ago. 2017 marks the 22nd year we have hosted this clinic for our community. Many of our Centralettes are former Junior Centralettes. They understand their role in mentoring young dancers who may someday stand in their proverbial dance shoes. It is because of this mutual benefit, the connection we have with our community continues to flow both ways,” Kevin Mathis, Dance Director, said.
This clinic provides benefits not only for interested Centralettes, but current Centralettes as well.
“The purpose of our clinic is to make dance accessible in a safe and friendly environment. It introduces the community to our team while allowing our dancers the opportunity to reconnect with the community of a personal level. It reminds our dancers why they choose dance as their sport,” Mathis said.
There were three age groups at the clinic: Preschool/Kindergarten-3rd grade, 4th-6th grade and 7th-8th grade. The younger girls were able to show off their hard work during the Parent Show at the end of their session.
“The kids were so excited to show their parents and vice versa. I think the kids really picked up the dance well, so we impressed a lot of people,” Maisie Westerfield (9) said.
There were a few challenges getting the girls to break out of their shells, but at the end of the session, the smiles on their faces proved that the hard work paid off.
“It was difficult getting them to be quiet and listen since they are little [and] they love to laugh and talk to us and the other girls. My favorite part about today was bringing the shy ones out of their shells and seeing them have fun and also hearing how they wanted to become dancers like us. They really are the future of the Centralettes,” Hannah Hopkins (11) said.
“We’ve been doing this for five years now. It’s just to engage the community and the little ones and it’s supposed to be a lot of fun. My favorite part is getting to see the smiles on the faces of the little ones. I know they’re excited about wearing the black and gold and wearing the little t-shirts with Leo the Lion on it. It’s just all about fun,” Athletic Director Rick Costello said.
The gymnasium was adorned with balloons and was filled with friendly-chatter, laughter, and the dribbling of the basketballs. This was also a special event for the women’s team, as this was their Senior Day.
“It’s our Senior Day and we’re going to honor three senior players that have been awesome representatives of the university, so it’s a special day for us. We try to get exposure with all the young kids, families and Northwest Indiana. Hopefully, they’ll come out and support athletics here and realize that Purdue Northwest is a family-friendly university and we are really proud of what we have to offer and we need to get the message out,” Coach Tom Megyesi said.
The size of the crowd also excited one first-time PNW athlete.
Dance team member Renn Arvanitis said, “This is my first year at Purdue Northwest and I’ve been on the dance team all season. I love that there’s a big crowd at this game. Usually, our crowds aren’t this big so I feel like there’s a different atmosphere with all the extra people here. It’s going to help the team have a better game.”
Whether it is to bond over sports or just spend an afternoon with friends and family, Purdue Northwest Kids Day had the attendees covered.
“I’m a Girl Scout leader so I was looking for more events to do for the girls and I looked into this actually on Purdue’s website. It’s a great outing with the kids and to show support for the team,” said mother, Milica Barron.