Leaving a lasting impact on your school is no easy feat, but some students, like senior Isabella Morales make this look like a walk in the park. Being both an involved student and an outstanding athlete throughout her four years at Coral Gables Senior High, her busy schedule has never stopped her from succeeding. Breaking school records left and right, receiving never-ending academic recognition and still being behind nearly every school event for the Class of 2023, Morales encapsulates every trait that makes a remarkable Cavalier.
Senior Isabella Morales dashes to the finish line at the end of the 1,600m race on Feb. 22
Morales first joined track during her freshmen year, but due to COVID-19, her freshman and sophomore seasons were cut short. Starting her junior year, Morales broke the 1600 meter school record with a time of 5:45.05. Additionally, Morales also beat the 5000 meter school record with a time of 19:59.30, qualifying her for the Florida High School Athletic Association State Championship. But Morales did not stop there, she followed her successful junior season with intense summer training in preparation for the following year.
“I went into the race obviously thinking, let me push myself so I can break [20 minutes], but also let me push myself for my teammates, so we can advance to the state championship. So as soon as I crossed the line, and I saw it was 19:59.30, I was really just proud of myself and so happy that I just released tears of joy and hugged my teammates after everyone finished their race and along with my coaches. It was just a great moment,” Morales said.
Her devotion to running and leadership qualities led her to be named the team captain of both the girls cross country team as well as the girls distance team in track during her last year at Gables. Now holding two school records, Morales continued to set high goals throughout her senior season.
Despite her success in running, basketball had always been her go-to sport, as she grew up watching and playing it. Starting as a six-year-old in the recreational league at the Youth Center, Morales practiced with her team and played in games until she reached Gables. Despite the contrast in these sports, Morales’s dedication remained constant, earning her the title of Co-Captain of the Lady Cavs basketball team by her senior year. By the end of the 2022 winter season, Morales was satisfied with her successful senior season filled with many victories.
“Basketball definitely feels more like a team sport because you are constantly moving around with a team. I see running as more as a competition against myself rather than a competition against another group of people. So with every race that I go into, I kind of just try to improve myself in one aspect or another,” Morales said.
Through her experiences and the steadfast support shown to her by her family, coaches and teammates, Morales has been able to handle every curveball thrown at her. But more than that, she is there for her teammates to guide them through thick and thin, rightfully earning her titles as the team captain of all her sports. For all these reasons, as well as her remarkable athletic performances, Morales was awarded the Outstanding Athlete award her senior year, as yet another addition to her collection.
“I don’t know who I am without sports, because they have been a part of my life since I was out of the womb. But, playing sports, watching sports, talking about sports, it’s just such a big part of my life and a big part of who I am. Sports have built my personality and all of my characteristics, from how I interact with other people to how I perceive myself. It’s just such an integral part of who I am that has really taught me so many things, so many lessons. That just means a lot to me,” Morales said.
The Class of 2023 student council pose with their sponsor, Ms. Suarez, in the beginning of the year, excited for the year of activities to come.
Apparent through all her work during high school, she has always valued serving others. As the secretary of the Class of 2023 for three years, Morales’s impact on her school goes far beyond her athletics and academics. As an underclassman, she worked alongside her fellow student council members to organize treat days for her class. As she grew into the position, senior Morales worked to create and facilitate events for the student body to enjoy, such as Homecoming, Prom, Grad Bash, cap and gown distributions and some treat days.
On top of her involvement with student council, Morales also leads and participates in many other clubs of Gables, such as president of the International Baccalaureate Honor Society and a dedicated member of the National Honor Society.
“I first met her our sophomore year in basketball and she was amazing, and that is when we started our dynamic duo. The following year we got to do cross country, basketball and track together, and she was crazy. She’s a record breaker. We also do a lot of other stuff together, outside of sports, like leading IBHS together. I’m blessed to have had her as my duo,” senior Audrey Simon said.
Likewise, Morales is also involved in Gables’ News magazine highlights. Starting as a staff writer and rising through the ranks to managing editor in her senior year, Morales has always played a big role in her publication by creating designs and producing quality work. Her dedication and hard work in journalism has earned her awards from theFlorida Scholastic Press Association, including All-Florida recognitions.
Senior Isabella Morales poses with her friends at the College Signing event on Apr. 18, celebrating her admission to UF.
Outside of her involvements, Morales will additionally graduate as the top 5%, specifically the 98th percentile, of her class. Being the epitome of a well-rounded student, from academics, athletics and even involvements, Morales was accepted into multiple universities such as Northeastern University Honors, University of North Carolina Honors and the University of Miami. Ultimately, she chose to commit to the University of Florida. Staying close to home and avoiding debt was imperative in her decision to stay in-state for college. Likewise, after her time in highlights, Morales values the fact that UF is also the top school in Florida for graphic design, spurring her decision to become a Florida Gator.
“Isa has such a dynamic personality. She helps really to just create a fun environment. I think she has set an example of what can be accomplished by a student athlete. She is also absolutely amazing as a student and works just as hard, if not harder than anybody else. The impact she has on everybody is not even measurable,” Mr. Nelson said.
In college, Morales hopes to accomplish great things, learn a lot and make valuable connections. Last, Morales plans to join a UF running club and continue to play basketball on her own, never forgetting her athletics. Continuing her journey in graphic design, Morales aims to also gain experience in the world of advertisement and become a creative director for the Miami Heat. Just like she has left her mark at Gables, Morales will continue to change the lives of everyone around her.
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