Save the Sharpie. Felicia Pasadyn isn’t into being content.
The way The Gazette’s 2019 Senior Female Athlete of the Year sees it, hitting the target isn’t good enough. When the Brunswick graduate reaches a goal, a new one is immediately set.
“The whole idea of being happy but not satisfied comes from all the work I’m constantly doing day in and day out on the course, on the track or in the pool,” Pasadyn said. “I know that when I finish the state meet I have nationals to look forward to.
“I look back on what I’ve done in the winter and know I’ve worked so hard that even in that moment when I’m ecstatic about the results, there’s more to come. Always knowing there’s something more out there than I’ve even imagined is something that is always in my head.”
Birthdate: March 24, 2002.
Family members: Father Leon, mother Jeannine, older sisters Selena, Vanessa and Cassandra.
Hobbies: Swimming, running, dancing, singing and camping.
Favorite TV shows: “Friends” and “Parks and Recreation.”
Favorite movie: “Bridesmaids.”
Favorite actress: Jennifer Aniston.
Favorite athlete: My three older sisters, Selena, Vanessa and Cassandra.
Favorite song: “Don’t Stop Believing,” by Journey.
Favorite book: “Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger.
Favorite number: 20.
The best compliment I ever got was: “You’re a great competitor, but when you finish a race, your character shines even more. You’re always smiling or giving a thumbs up to your mom or a teammate, no matter the results. That shows a great racer but also someone with great sportsmanship.”
The thing I like most about sports is: “You have the power to get out of it what you put in. You can go to practice every day and do the workouts (and by this simply check it off the list), or you can love practice every day and tackle every set given. The difference is one who goes through the motions will be a mediocre runner/swimmer and the other will be a fantastic one.
My idea of the perfect day is: “My family and I on a quiet beach spending time together with good music, bright sunshine and making memories.”
A state champion in the 100-yard backstroke as a junior, Pasadyn could have rested on her laurels, walked through her senior season, like many athletes do, and then moved onto Harvard.
That’s not in her makeup, so she went out and repeated the feat.
“A goal isn’t an endpoint,” Blue Devils swimming coach Vince Colwell said. “It’s just one step to the next. She really has embraced that. It’s never like, ‘Oh, I checked off that box. I’m good here.’ It’s more, ‘What’s the next thing?’ She has a big picture in mind. It’s an attitude and it’s been super successful, just how it spreads to her teammates. They look up to her. When you have someone setting that example and doing things the right way, it makes my job easy.”
Brunswick cross country and distance track coach Kerry Hunter thinks Pasadyn could have been every bit the runner as she was the swimmer if not for injuries that hampered her junior and senior seasons.
The proof is in a sophomore season where she was named Gazette MVP after finishing ninth at the state meet in cross country.
It continued when she posted an 18:34.5 in the second meet of the season, but had to step away because of injuries after the Mentor Cardinal Classic on Sept. 1 as a senior.
Her time held up to be the fifth-fastest in Medina County.
“That doesn’t happen all the time,” Hunter said. “A lot of times kids get to that spot and feel like, ‘Oh, yeah, I got that time. I got to that spot. We’re good.’ She was like, ‘OK, I got that time, what’s next? What’s our next step?’ She was always asking what we were going to do now to get to the next point. She was always happy, but never satisfied.”
We talking about practice?
Pasadyn’s accomplishments didn’t happen by accident. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
No days off is a common anthem among athletes. Pasadyn sees it as no opportunity wasted.
Raise the bar and she’ll show you it can go even higher, but she doesn’t do it just in competition. It happens every day in practice.
“She understands how to connect things to her goals,” Colwell said. “She’s got a big goal and understands that it requires a certain amount of work before that. Her ability to give it everything she’s got and to be there every single time is the reason she’s extraordinary.
“She’s obviously really talented. The way she practices is just better than almost everybody else. She practices different. She practices harder. Everything she does is plus one. When I tell her to do something, it’s that and more. She doesn’t just want to reach the bar at practice, she wants to jump over it every day. That’s how you reach the heights she’s at.”
Those heights come in the fastest time ever run in cross country in the area (17:53). They come with her six state qualifications in track and trips to the podium in the 3,200-meter run (2nd, 5th), 1,600 (4th) and 4x800 relay (4th), where she still holds the school record.
“She was always intense in practice,” Hunter said. “She was always looking to do whatever she could do. It’s her DNA. Her sisters were the same way. There was never a problem with the work ethic. It was always top notch.”
Throw Pasadyn in the pool and she goes out of her mind. She’s a 15-time state qualifier and five-time state placer after finishing second, third and fifth in the 200 individual medley.
A 14-time national meet finalist, she was also a national runner-up in the 400 IM and two-time Greater Cleveland Conference Swimmer of the Year.
She holds every individual school record and every county mark except the 50 freestyle and 200 medley relay.
“That’s a lesson for anyone who wants to achieve that type of success in athletics,” Brunswick athletic director John Justice said. “It’s not just putting in the time when you’re supposed to be there and have to be there. It’s putting it in when you don’t have to be there and nobody sees you.”
Pasadyn is a four-time All-American and All-Gazette pick in swimming and two-time MVP.
All that came with an undying persistence to do it the right way and a desire to get better.
“I think it’s the difference between phenomenal athletes and average athletes,” Pasadyn said. “Every day going into practice, I look forward to it and think to myself, ‘No wasted opportunities.’ I think those three words to myself before I jump into the pool or before a run.
“What that means is because I’m able to practice and have these wonderful opportunities with having a great family, a wonderful community and great coaches, I know that I have been blessed and I better capitalize on them. Ultimately, I know if I have that drive and support system it will lead to success.”
Thrill of competition
Athletes love being a big fish in a small pond. Very few look forward to pushing themselves beyond their limits.
Pasadyn is one who does.
“I never had any doubts when she was racing that she was going to give me a great race,” Hunter said. “I don’t think she ever had a bad race in the times I had her.”
It wasn’t just succeeding against those she knew she could beat, it was rising to the challenge and beating those that might be faster.
“She loves the bright lights,” Colwell said. “Every time you go to a bigger stage, she just gets bigger. It was amazing to watch her do things like that. It’s an attitude and a confidence in what she’s done. All the work she’s done gives her that confidence. It just doesn’t come from nowhere. It comes from looking back and saying I did everything I could, now let’s let it rip and have some fun.”
It was a confidence Pasadyn picked up as a young swimmer and one that has run through her veins for more than a decade. The thrill of the chase pushed her as much as success.
“Felicia was definitely that one in the middle of a set to be motivating others,” swimming teammate Erika Eyssen said. “That is often more important. It’s the attitude you convey to others and the positive atmosphere. It was definitely there every single day.”
Pasadyn is much more than an athlete. Holding a 4.625 grade-point average, Pasadyn was the valedictorian in a class of 638. A MENSA scholarship winner and nine-time Academic All-Ohioan, she was the vice president of the diversity club and social media executive for Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports, among her many school and club activities.
She’s a volunteer for the post anesthesia care unit at Cleveland Clinic-Medina Hospital as well as a National Honor Society tutor.
Whether it’s teaching Vacation Bible School or kettle bell ringing for the Salvation Army, she’s always doing something to better herself and society.
“She really is the perfect example of what it is to be a student-athlete,” Justice said. “For her to be the type of kid that she is in the classroom with the success she’s had, but also to be a state champion-caliber athlete, that’s pretty amazing. It’s an incredible commitment to be that type of student, but also that type of athlete. It’s incredible to see what she’s done in all four years of her high school career.”
The endless hours have taught Pasadyn time management. She always has made academics the top priority and has leaned on an incredible family unit when times are tough. It’s made the stress of success easier and should continue to do so well through college and beyond.
“The amount of hard work I see her do, I’m not surprised she’s so good at so many things,” Colwell said. “She’s dedicated and driven in that focus and has the mental and physical capacity to do all of those things. She works for all of it. Her drive to do all those things is why she’s so successful.
“What she’s willing to do on a day-to-day basis is just different than what most kids are willing to do or able to do. That’s why she’s at a level that very few athletes ever get to.”
Growing up Felicia
Being the baby of the family isn’t always easy, but Pasadyn wouldn’t have it any other way and looks to sisters Selena, Cassandra and Vanessa as a huge part of her success. That goes for her father Leon and mother Jeanine as well.
“I have no idea where I’d be without my three older sisters and my mom and dad,” Pasadyn said. “Especially with how close we all are. They were just my biggest role models growing up. In the (Gazette) questionnaire you guys gave me when I see the words favorite athlete, I immediately think of my three sisters and their endeavors. They’re people I look up to.
“More than just my sisters, they really are my best friends. They’re the people I text when something good happens or I call or FaceTime, or if I’m struggling with something and need advice. It means a lot to me that they were there all throughout high school and will be there for me when I head off to college as well.”
Their resumes are undeniable.
Oldest sister Selena was the valedictorian at Brunswick and won the nation’s high school Heisman in 2011. Cassandra was the valedictorian at Brunswick and a two-time All-Gazette MVP in swimming. Vanessa was the valedictorian at Brunswick and a Wendy’s High School Heisman state winner.
That doesn’t count the scads of MVP honors the three won and the countless records they set.
“It’s the support system that that family has with each other,” Colwell said. “From the parents to the older sisters, they’re all so close and they support each other so much that it turns all into a positive. They feed off each other and build each other up so that it doesn’t turn into a negative.
“It keeps feeding itself. Excellence breeds more excellence breeds more excellence and they all help each other so much. Watching the girls and the way they talk about each other, how they practice together and how they are in public, they’re so close and so supportive. They help build each other up.”
That incredible lineage taught Pasadyn the values, commitment and dedication she needed to succeed.
“She definitely could have just looked up to her accomplishments of her sisters and accepted that, but she didn’t,” Eyssen said. “She used them as role models and followed in their footsteps. Not only that, she used what they did and set them as her goals and went above and beyond that. It shows a lot about her character and her ability not to settle for mediocrity or anything less than she really wants.”
All the above ingredients have made her into an incredible leader, but Pasadyn is much more than that. Her blueprint came from studying her sisters. Her footprint will continue on for years.
“The culture that she has helped foster and lead, especially this year, was amazing,” Colwell said. “It was one of the most fun years I’ve had on deck. It’s because of her and the other leaders on the team.
“The freshmen don’t know any different. It’s, ‘Well, this is how it’s supposed to be.’ That’s what they’re going to keep pushing. A turn in culture that way is so organic that the program won’t ever be the same. It will just keep rising because she gave it that huge nudge. She made it start to snowball. The ripples and butterfly effect of what she’s done will be felt for years and years and years”
Eyssen points to Pasadyn’s ability to make the team feel like family and create an incredible support system. That energy brings a calmness in the heat of battle.
Hunter mentions that Pasadyn never stepped back and relaxed. She was always out doing more than expected.
“She’s a prime example of what it means to be a student-athlete and a leader,” Justice said. “She’s a phenomenal example of what you want in terms of student-athletes in our athletic program. She was obviously a huge leader in our swim program. I’m sure kids look at it and realize how she worked to succeed at the highest level.”
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