Siobhan Whipp wouldn't allow an injury to keep her from running, even if it meant working through the pain.
The North Mecklenburg sophomore pinched a nerve in her left leg earlier this year in a ski accident and was diagnosed with sciatica - a condition characterized by pain and weakness of the lower extremities.
She said that after being unable to run for about a month, she struggled to work out for last spring's track season and was even struggling when cross country got underway this school year.
"It was harder for me to compete," Whipp said.
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Vikings' track and cross country coach Lawrence Lawson said he was proud of the perseverance the 16-year-old showed during her injury.
"A lot of runners quit when they go through something like that, but she came back and worked just as hard as before," the second-year coach said.
Even though her injury isn't fully healed, she has been able to shave nearly 7 minutes off her cross country time.
"That's a big drop," Lawson said.
The long-distance runner has also dropped 18 seconds off her mile time so far this indoor track season.
Her coach attributes her improvement to her work ethic.
"I think this sport has helped keep me disciplined and that helps me in all areas," Whipp said.
Whipp explained that even though she wasn't always feeling up to running when she returned earlier this year, she made a conscious effort to complete her workout no matter how painful it was.
"I didn't want to be one of those people that say 'Oh, I can't do this because I'm hurt,'" she said. "I just kind of kept going."
Not giving up was a challenge for Whipp. She said it all depends on how mentally strong you are and how much effort you put into it.
"It's all on you," she explained. "You can't blame somebody else if you get a bad time."
Whipp said that she didn't do it all by herself and that she's thankful for Lawson's support during her rehabilitation.
"He knew I was hurt and that it would be a little bit harder for me to workout, so he was always telling me 'Do your best - it's OK if you can't do it all,'" she said.
Lawson said Whipp has developed into one of the best motivators on his team, bringing a lot of team spirit and constantly encouraging teammates.
Whipp said she learned about how important a little cheer can be while recovering, adding that motivating her teammates comes innately - something she said she derives from her time playing soccer through middle school.
"(Soccer's) one of the most competitive sports and it's really intense, so that's where I think I bring that from," she explained.
She said her positive attitude comes from her parents.
"I live in a very positive home," she said.
Lawson said that Whipp gives his Vikings a boost. "She always picks up the runners around her, which is something every coach wants to have."