Alexis McElwain gets it done

Published on Wed, Feb 12, 2014 by Ian Ferguson

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Alexis McElwain is the type of person college recruiters look for. Her accomplishments – three-sport captain, honor student, president of the ASB and choir – would allow her to study pretty much anything anywhere. However, a strong desire to help people combined with an impressive resume of injuries that includes a dozen broken bones, more than 200 stitches and multiple concussions, have convinced the Blaine senior that she wants to pursue a degree in medicine.

“I guess you could say I’m accident-prone,” McElwain said; but the truth is she has always put herself on the line as an 
athlete, and when you try as hard as McElwain does, sometimes you get hurt.

“She tries hard all the time,” said Blaine girls basketball head coach Ryan Pike. “I think when she puts her mind to something, she can accomplish almost anything and nothing will stand in her way.”

Pike recalled a game against Nooksack Valley this season in which the Borderites were struggling. “In the fourth quarter she decided she was going to get every rebound. She started making put-backs, and every time she came back to the bench she was saying, ‘We’ve got this, let’s just keep going.’ If the ball was in the air, she was getting it and if it was on the ground, she was diving for it.” The Borderites went on to win the scrappy game 51–48. 

The stubborn pursuit of a goal is a theme for McElwain. With the ASB, McElwain has been working hard to boost school spirit, and has spearheaded efforts to leave a lasting legacy with the installation of a “spirit rock” near the football field. Many other schools in the county have a large boulder painted with school colors, and senior classes decorate them every year. “I just think it would be a great tradition and a symbol of school pride,” she said. 

McElwain has procured a rock and is in the process of drafting her second appeal to complete the project. “She’s a go-getter who’s very interested in making the school a better place,” said Blaine High School principal Scott Ellis. “She’s done a lot to get the spirit rock and it’s coming along nicely. With any luck, it will be in place before she graduates.”

Athletic director and assistant principal Wayne Vezzetti has worked with McElwain on the ASB and has watched her on the playing fields and basketball court. “She’s a phenomenal leader,” Vezzetti said.

As captain of the soccer team, softball team and basketball team, McElwain puts her natural leadership in action. This year, as one of a few seniors on a strong girls basketball team, McElwain has taken on that role with gusto. “She’s a vocal leader. The girls look to her to bring enthusiasm and laughter to the team,” Pike said.

“I help the girls when they need help. I’m vocal; I call out plays,” McElwain said. She’s quick to point out that the team’s strength doesn’t lie in any individual. In fact, the reason the team has done so well this season, in McElwain’s eyes, is because they are a unit.

“I think we’re more like a family than a team. We can come to each other with any problem, tell each other anything and we’re basically like one family. Every one of those girls is like my sister,” she said.

Speaking of family, McElwain said her family has always supported her athletic pursuits. Parents Michael and Lisa McElwain have gotten her to hundreds of practices and games over the years, and always make an effort to watch her basketball games. The fact that she calls basketball her favorite sport may have a lot to do with her dad.

“He’s my role model. He was really good at basketball when he was younger,” she said. “I can kill him in a game of 21 now, though.”

McElwain is hoping for a basketball scholarship, and has already received an offer but is not sure if she will take it. She said studying medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle is high on her list of options. With a 3.86 grade point average, McElwain said science is her favorite subject.

“I love doing experiments and learning about how the world works,” she said. When she’s not playing sports, volunteering or studying, McElwain enjoys camping trips with her family, and her rock hunting hobby.

For now, McElwain’s hopes and desires are firmly set on the next few weeks, as the Borderites head into the postseason. McElwain and a few other athletes on the team have conducted scouting trips to scope out other teams, and after King’s knocked Blaine out of the district tournament last year, McElwain is seeking redemption.

“I want to beat King’s so bad,” she said. The strategy? “Keep winning. We’re going to try to push the ball, keep up the pace and play at our level instead of playing down to the teams we’re playing against.”

If the lifetime pattern of checking off goals is any indicator, McElwain and the Borderites will have their way.

“When she wants to do something, she’ll get it done,” Pike said. “She’s just a hardworking individual, and I think if we had more people like [McElwain], it would be a better community.”

Ellis had a similar response when asked what he thought of McElwain.

“She’s a people person and a really nice kid,” he said. “If my daughter grows up to be like her, I’ll be a very happy dad.”