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West Orange Times & Observer Friday, Feb. 25, 2022 9 months ago

ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Aarya Patel

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The Olympia freshman is playing her first season of lacrosse.
by: Chris Martucci Sports Editor

Aarya Patel is a freshman on the Olympia Titans lacrosse team. This is her first year of playing lacrosse — let alone high school lacrosse — after having taken a hiatus from organized sports after she dislocated her knee. She plays as a defender for the Titans, who split their first two games of the season against Freedom and Winter Springs a year after winning the district championship. Patel was key in limiting the Patriots to three points in their game Feb. 17. 

What brought you to Olympia? 

My former school was a charter school, and it had a really different environment compared to most other schools. I wanted to change my experience in high school by meeting more people and things like that. The people at Olympia are different and nice; it’s a very welcoming school. There are also a lot of other extracurricular activities, opening other doors for me, too. 

How did you get involved with lacrosse? 

There was a girl in my neighborhood (who) asked me one day if I wanted to give it a try. I stopped all sports a couple of years ago and decided that maybe this was the year to get back into it and try lacrosse. Until I joined the team, I had not seen an actual game — only a couple of people playing around. 

What do you like about lacrosse? 

I like how the game is played when I saw it for the first time. I always heard people talk about it, but I never really knew what it was until now. One of the things I like is running again; it feels great to defend people. 

You play defense for the Titans. What is something you like about it, and what is a challenge? 

You have to be aggressive, which is something I’m trying to get better at as I go along. 

What other sports did you play before jumping into lacrosse? 

I played a lot of different sports growing up. I remember doing soccer, which was not for me. I did tennis for four years and then swimming for three years. I went onto a swim team and said that maybe this was not for me. I also did volleyball and basketball for a season just to try them out. 

How do you feel about how the team has done so far? 

Things have been pretty good so far. The older girls are mentoring us and teaching us a lot of things, so it’s been a fun experience so far. 

What is your favorite class in school so far?

My hospitality class. I like the way my teacher conducts the class. The work is interesting; creating different logos, brand marks, that sort of thing. It’s something I want to possibly do in my future, like business or something like that. 

Favorite movie genre? 

Horror and action are my two favorite genres of movies. My favorites in those categories have to be “The Conjuring” and “Jurassic Park.” 

What’s an interesting thing about you no one would expect to know? 

I’m a big softie. The way I show myself, I look pretty straightforward, but once you get to know me, I’m a pretty soft person. 

What’s your attitude toward life? 

Taking one step at a time and learning through things. Everyone goes through different things, and you learn from it. 

Disney or Universal? 

Universal — Hollywood Rip Ride Rock is my favorite ride there. 

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go? 

Tanzania — my great-grandmother was from there, and I’ve never seen Africa. My dad is from London, and I’ve never been to there. I want to go to all these different places and see where they’re from. 

What are some of your goals for this season? 

Become a good defender. I have a lot to learn (because) it is my first year playing lacrosse, so I’m going to try and do my best to become the best defender I can be. 

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Chris Martucci is the sports editor for the West Orange Times & Observer,  Southwest Orange Observer and OrangeObserver.com. He holds a master's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri — Columbia School of Journalism, as well as a bachelor's degree in...

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