The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

Humans of Harker: Head up and headstrong

Anjali Yella breaks through barriers on and off the track
Claire Yu
“I felt like track was more in my control and from track I learned the discipline of mind body connection and just pushing my body to its limits made me realize any mental stress I put on myself academically is just not worth it and it’s not in my control,” Anjali Yella (12) said.

One breath in, one breath out. The work put in and the race plan created all led up to this final race. The gun cuts through the air with a loud boom indicating the start, and Anjali Yella (12) drives out, thrusting each foot into the ground with more power than the last. She pushes her body to her limit, staying focused, eyes on her end goal and crosses the finish line with her head held high, setting the new school record for the 400 meter.   

Anjali’s original high school plan never included track. Getting her start in sports in third grade, Anjali participated in basketball both in school and club. Again and again, season after season, Anjali found herself in the gym training for her games on the court. As the environment around Anjali became a place of comfort and familiarity, the people around her transformed into a constant comforting presence. 

“I made so many friends from the girls basketball team that I’m still close friends with today,” Anjali said. “Having all those influences and upperclassmen you can look on to is really nice, especially in a competitive environment.” 

Anjali found herself in a unique environment that brought about a significant shift in her priorities when she began training for track more, focusing on what made her the best version of herself. She worked on herself, taking up new challenges that brought her closer to her goals and remained determined to push herself to new limits and break her own records every time she stepped onto the track. Her sense of purpose kept her motivated and inspired to keep striving for excellence. But all of that came because of the support system around her.

“My relationships, like my family and friends,” Anjali said. “I feel that no matter how much you’re chasing success or chasing some sort of goal; if you don’t have those people to talk to or you don’t have your support group, you’re just going to feel so alone and lost” 

Though Anjali became solely a track athlete, she kept close ties with many of her basketball friends such as Medha Yarlagadda (12). Medha cherishes how Anjali looks out for her friends and wants everyone around her to not just thrive but thrive together. 

“She’s the best version of herself and she surrounds herself with people who really maximize their potential and who they can be,” Medha said. “Her driven personality also motivates people around her to be driven. As a friend, she’s always pushing me to try my hardest and be my best. Sometimes she would hold herself back or she would give up mentally; but I think over time, she’s become really good at pushing herself.” 

Her caring personality continues to shin through in her teacher’s classrooms. Computer science teacher Anu Datar especially remembers Anjali’s sincere, dedicated, hard working culture. 

“She would not let any kind of obstacle stop her from figuring out whatever it was she wanted to know,” Datar said. “In spite of any hurdles or roadblocks, she always makes an effort, and she manages to find ways to get to her final destination, whatever it may be.”

Anjali sets out to be the best at whatever she does. Her drive fuels her efforts and pushes her to get the results she wants to receive. While Anjali worked on balancing her social, academic, and athletic pursuits, her close friend, Claire Miao (12), watched her grow from when they were both new ninth graders on the girls basketball team. 

“She brings that same infectious energy everywhere and she always makes us laugh,” Claire said. “Everyone can tell she’s very driven to get the things that she wants. If she sets her mind on something, then she would work really hard to do that regardless of any external challenges, and I think that internal drive that she has really pushes her to be her best.” 

Though Anjali started later than most of her track competitors, she broke through her sophomore year by qualifying for state finals in the 400-meter race. That same year Anjali received MVP in both track and basketball. But as she transitioned to solely track in junior year, track allowed Anjali to push herself in a way basketball had not and ended up becoming a space for Anjali to discover more about herself physically and mentally in training. 

“I felt like it was more in my control,” Anjali said. “From track I learned the discipline of mind-body connection and just pushing my body to its limits made me realize any mental stress I put on myself academically is just not worth it and it’s not in my control”

By setting her mind to her goals, Anjali achieves them, especially on the track. Learning from her experiences allowed her to form a strong mindset and peace of mind, without letting comparison to her competitors weaken her.

“I think what I like about track is that it doesn’t really depend on the person next to you,” Anjali said. “It’s all your race and your time. What I’m trying to do this year is to just cut out like all the competition and just try to run my race because who knows; the competition might have a really bad day or a really good day and I can’t let that affect me and all I care about is my own personal records and my own goals.”

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Claire Yu
Claire Yu, Reporter
Claire Yu (10) is a reporter for Harker Aquila, and this is her second year on staff. This year, Claire hopes to take more photos and not fall behind on her deadlines. In her free time, Claire enjoys listening to music, reading and playing basketball.

Comments (0)

All Harker Aquila Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *