BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ -- Stephanie Willougby spoke with Victoria Vanriele, student athlete and leader, who is a graduating senior at Governor Livingston High School. She has made quite an impressive athletic and academic career for herself while in high school, and she shared some of the secrets of her success and advice for younger students who are inspired by her accomplishments.
“I want to lead by example,” said Vanriele. “If they are focused and dedicated enough to achieve whatever they want, the sky’s the limit.”
Vanriele started in Track as far back as fifth grade, when her gym teacher noticed her talent. She encouraged Vanriele to try out for the Colgate Women’s Games in New York and by middle school she was competing there. Starting in her freshman year of high school, she began winning major sports competitions, such as the 800 Meter Event at the New Jersey Meet of Champions--and kept on winning. This year, she became the fourth girl in New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) history to win the same event in all four years of the Winter Track Meet of Champions. She has also been awarded the Gatorade Player of the Year for two consecutive years, and in 2020, she was named a NJSIAA Scholar-Athlete, for her combination of athletic and academic prowess.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought her high school athletic career to a halt, but it also taught Vanriele some important lessons. “I’ve realized that it’s very important to capitalize on every single opportunity that you are given and nothing will ever be promised,” Vanriele said. “Sometimes there won’t be second chances,” she added. “Things happen that are not in your control and you won’t have another opportunity.”
“It’s been quite the journey,” said Vanriele. “I've had a great career during high school and I’m really excited for the future.” As a top student at Governor Livingston High School, Vanriele will be attending the Honors College at Penn State University in the fall. Besides focusing on schoolwork, Vanriele has led Zoom workouts for other students during the pandemic. “Good character will take you very far,” she said. “Do your best at all times.”