By REBECCA KRATZ
Special to the Sun-Gazette
Everyone has a story to tell. Jessica Scordino's story is no exception. She is an athlete whose name is recognized around Mansfield University's campus.
She is committed to success in cross-country and track and field as she has become a shining star for the Mounties. Her journey has not been without trials and tribulations.
Running hasn't been a part of Scordino's life for long - starting as a hobby throughout high school and finally joining the sport her junior year at Owego Free Academy in New York. It shaped her into the athlete and person she is today.
Scordino has used running to find her inner-self and to overcome hardships and obstacles in her life. We all have people who impact us, and Scordino found her motivation through two people in her life.
"My two biggest inspirations are my Dad and my sister. I run for them. Without those two, running would not mean what it does to me today. Just having them in my life and expressing they're so proud of me with every accomplishment that I have made, makes me want to push myself so much harder so I can continue to surprise them," Scordino said.
The two have held a valuable place in Scordino's heart, both on the sideline and in competition. Scordino's twin sister Kristy, who also is her teammate, has provided a large part of motivation for her in joining the running life. Scordino is excited when she sees the excitement in her dad and sister.
"I can relive the thrill over and over again in my head and seeing the smiles and joy on their faces. The congratulations they had given me were motivation enough to make me want to improve more than I already have," she said.
After missing an opportunity to have her first national level berth in 2012, Scordino was devastated, but words of encouragement are motivation enough for her to continuously keep trying. Scordino was attempting to qualify for the 10K, reached the provisional qualifying time however, fell short in the standings by one spot.
Scordino is on the fence about her running career. "I have been asked if I want to continue running post-collegiately and continue to train and compete in races. I find myself going back and forth. I try to weigh the positives and negatives and take into consideration where my career is going to take me," Scordino said.
Scordino proved to be the underdog during the 2012 cross-country season, bouncing back from an injury that plagued a large portion of her season.
She had suffered from a fracture to her cuboid bone located in the outside of her left foot, which altered her training regime. For weeks, Scordino could do little more than eat healthy and do minimum exercise without putting pressure on her foot.
As weeks progressed, she was able to start to use the elliptical and bike but at a low to moderate rate while wearing a boot.
"Am I a competitive athlete? Of course" she said, "but running is a lifestyle for me. It allows me the opportunity to find myself through all the ups and downs".
She missed most of the regular season as well as the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) meet but returned just in time for the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional meet.
She took everyone by surprise finishing sixth place overall and earning her first trip to the NCAA Division II National Cross-Country Championship.
At the NCAA National meet in Missori, Scordino finished 24th and became one of only three female runners in the university's history to earn All-American honors.
Scordino continues to impress those around her with her dedication and determination.
"Her dedication is something I have always admired about her. She sets a goal and works hard to achieve it," teammate Amy Lee said. Her plans for her career are even more enlightening. "I will always be a runner but as the future approaches through all the hardships my goal is to work to become an Army dietitian. To do so, I need to continue my education after I leave Mansfield," Scordino said.
Scordino must continue with graduate studies and earn a master's degree and an internship. People who have followed this same path told her it would be very difficult to continue training the way she is while managing to complete her career goals.
"Because it is time consuming and mind taxing, I would run myself into the ground, be exhausted beyond belief, and not enjoy running as much as I do now," Scordino said. "Whatever I end up doing in the end, if that means I end up just running for the joy of it, I am happy with that. If I'm able to further my running career, I am fine with that too."
Scordino has set a perfect example of willpower, persistence and enthusiasm to continue handling the curve balls life throws her way. She strives for success in every aspect and continues to take others by surprise.