The Finger Lakes Running Club has awarded $1000 scholarships to graduating high school seniors Elinor Kops of Ithaca High School and Nickolas Talijan of South Seneca High School. FLRC scholarships are awarded based on applicants’ academics, extracurricular activities, and demonstrated passion for running.
Ithaca High’s Elinor Kops takes pride in pushing herself intellectually and genuinely wants to learn. She is active in her community, volunteering at the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, Second Wind Cottages, Habitat for Humanity, and the Ithaca Advocacy Center, where she focuses on athletic consent and sexual assault awareness on sports teams. In her application, she wrote, “I am very passionate about volunteering, and my love for sports and the track community absolutely shows in the projects that I take on.” She has participated in track and cross country since 7th grade, joining the varsity track team as an 8th grader. In track, she was a multi-event athlete, and from cross country, she learned “that failure is an opportunity for improvement.” She wrote of the difficulty of friendships and bonds formed with older teammates and how she became a mentor to the modified girls track team. Elinor plans to attend Vassar College, where she hopes to run on their track and field team as a multi-event athlete. She “plans to leave a legacy of a fearless woman.”
In his application, Nickolas Talijan of South Seneca High School wrote of being raised by a single mother, the strong ties he has to his uncle and grandfather, how he never thought college was “in my cards” until he had a conversation with his mom about his plans to go into the nursing program in the military. She told him he could be anything he wanted to be and asked him to look at some schools to see if he would change his mind. He did, and he will be attending Paul Smith College for psychology. Academically, Nickolas struggled throughout school but credits his mother for believing in him and working two jobs to provide him the support he needed to be successful. In track, Nickolas started with discus throwing because it was a small group and quickly achieved success, becoming the top thrower in New York State with a throw of 105.5 feet as a freshman. That success fed his confidence, and his coaches urged him to try running events as well. “At 6’ 3" and 185 pounds with legs like telephone poles,” he did not have faith he could be a runner. With encouragement from his mother, Nickolas decided to step up to the challenge. With training, he became the anchor on his school’s relay team because he has the speed to make up any lost ground from earlier legs. Nickolas plans on running for the rest of his life. “Running has given me an opportunity that I did not think I ever had making me step out of who I was. I know I have used the words confidence a few times but really, I did not have any before track. It changed my life and who I am today and, most importantly, the person I want to become.”