Like most things in life, success in sports is largely dependent on the effort and work you put into them.
DuBois senior Alayna Cornelius, a two-sport athlete who competes in volleyball and swimming, is one competitor who takes that notion to heart. And, she does so in more than just the sports she compete in as she is also heavily involved in other activities both that the school and in the community.
“What I like best about playing sports is there is no limit,” she said. “You control your limits, you control how hard you work and you control how far you’re going to go in the sport you want to succeed in.
“I believe that sports are very mental and you have to have a strong and positive mentality to be successful in sports.”
Cornelius first got into swimming in elementary school and has competed in the sport for 10 years and later picked up volleyball in eighth grade. She lettered all four years of her varsity career in swimming and won a pair of letters in volleyball.
She hit the pool at full speed as a freshman and never looked back. She got teamed up with a trio of veterans in the 400 relay that year and by season’s end the squad qualified for states on time with a runner-up finish at the District 9 Class AA Championships.
Although she went to states the next year as well, Cornelius said the initial trip to Bucknell University is her greatest sports memory.
“I was on a relay team with Gabi Wayne, Julie Marchioni and Kiersten Pearce,” said Cornelius. “I was just a freshman and didn’t have very much experience in high school swimming. But, they all took me under their wing and made me comfortable and pushed me when I needed it.”
Wayne and Pearce were seniors that season and Marchioni a junior.
The ensuing year as a sophomore, she went to states in the 200 medley relay swimming alongside then seniors Marchioni and Lauren Usaitis and freshman Rayna Fenstermacher.
Cornelius said Marchioni was someone she really looked up and became her role model
“She was such a smart, beautiful, strong, happy and outgoing girl,” said the Lady Beaver. “She always went out of her way to wish me good luck before my race or ask me how my day went before practice. Her and I swam the same stroke (butterfly). We always called each other butterfly buddies.”
The DuBois girls moved up to Class AAA Cornelius’ final two seasons in the pool and had to compete at the District 6 Championships, which made qualifying for states even harder.
In volleyball, she was part of three straight D-9 Class 3A Championships squads, making her presence felt the last two years as a libero/back row player and at the service line.
Cornelius said swimming is her preferred sport of the two.
“My favorite sport is swimming for several reasons,” she said. “The first one is because we become really close with everyone on the team, so at the end of the season we are just one big family.
“Swimming is an individual sport, but it’s also a team sport with the relays. For both individual and relay events, you have to push yourself and practice hard to get the times that you want and need.”
Cornelius isn’t just an athlete though.
She is a member of the National Honor Society and physics club and helped with life skills, prom and Special Olympics. She also taught swim lessons with the swim team and was on the Homecoming court.
Out of school, she has served hot meals for people that are less fortunate and helped with Vacation Bible School at her church.
“Balancing sports, school, work, hanging out with friends and family time is very challenging,” said Cornelius. “It’s all about time management. Being organized helps you know how long you can spend on each thing, so you can fit all the important events that you want to do.”
Cornelius doesn’t play a spring sport but said the current stoppage of classes and all athletic activities has still affected her because she has many friends that do.
“It hurts me because their seasons might be canceled, and they’ll never get to play their last softball game or run in a meet after all the hard work and dedication they put in their sports after so many years,” she said.
Cornelius, the daughter of Frank and Jolene Cornelius, has a younger sister Jenna who plays volleyball and softball at the middle school.
After graduation, Cornelius plans to attend Slippery Rock University and major in health care administration. She also hopes to continue playing sports by joining a club volleyball team there.