Kelsi Worrell: Keeping It Positive

Feature by Megen Donovan

FORT DIX, New Jersey, October 18. NEW Jersey sprinter Kelsi Worrell avoided missing workouts too far into the season by going on all five of her recruiting trips in a row.

Her idea to get her college visits finished earlier on in the season, in order to keep the trips from impeding on her training later, is a tribute to her dedication to the sport. Jersey Storm head coach Garrett Clark is continually impressed by Worrell's work ethic. He said she is a sprinter who will tackle any distance set he gives her.

"We're not a team that is based off of sprinting or anything," Clark said. "She does all the work that everyone does."

Clark also sees how much Worrell has grown throughout the past four years. He said she is someone who was one of the younger, unassuming kids in the group. Now, as a senior, it is clear that she is a team leader.

One aspect of Jersey Storm's team dynamic, led by Worrell is that no one is allowed to say "bad words" around her. This ranges from standard bad words and negativity to any derogatory statements. Clark said her positive attitude is contagious.

"Everyone is very good and very positive," Clark said. "And it's all out of the respect that they have for her. She makes it happen."

Worrell carries her positivity into meet settings. Her relaxed demeanor helps her excel during her races. Clark believes she never truly feels nervous.

"I don't think she ever really feels a lot of pressure," he said. "She says she's nervous and then she goes and performs. It's like you can count on it."

Clark and Worrell do not put an emphasis on meet goals. Rather, they set practice performance goals. Her mind was always set on just doing her best when it came time for swim meets. When she achieved her first Nationals cut, she seemed surprised. Ultimately, she just enjoys racing.

"She likes the idea of swimming with her peers," Clark said.

She has appeared three times on the Junior Nationals stage. She also competes for her high school team, representing Rancocas Valley Regional High School at the New Jersey State Championships. Worrell does not focus on the clout that comes with these bigger meets.

"I don't think it's that huge," she said. "I feel like it's just another meet."

Before her races, Worrell repeats a Bible verse that is special to her. She tells herself, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," as she prepares to step onto the blocks.

"That just gives me the confidence," Worrell said.

When considering N.C. State, Louisville, Virginia Tech and Tennessee, Worrell wanted to stay away from city schools. One big factor in her decision process was whether or not the school offers Christian athlete groups.

"That's one of the things I really liked about Louisville and one of the things I didn't like about Virginia Tech," Worrell said.

In the end, that's what landed Louisville Worrell's commitment.

"I love everything about Louisville!" Worrell said when she announced her commitment. "The team is very close and the coaches only want what's best for their swimmers. I love the improvement they've had as a team over that past few years and all that their team has in store for the years to come. I'm so excited to be a Cardinal."

A South Jersey native, Worrell did not want to look into schools that were deemed too close to home. Ideally, she wants to be a few hours away.

"That way I won't want to run home all the time," she said. "It's just something I need to do."

Worrell decided to pick a strong team and coach she felt will cultivate her sprinting abilities further. She does not expect nor does she want the college swim program she chooses to be anything less than challenging.

"I'm looking forward to college," she said. "And challenge is really important to me. The ones that have a really good dryland coach and weight training programs are better too."