SAC Sound-off: A Tough Choice, a New Story

February 21, 2012

Heading into my junior year of high school, basketball happily had consumed nine years of my life.

Week after week filled with practices, conditioning and film. Basketball was more than my life; it was my love.

But with one decision, I left basketball behind.

When the opportunity arose to participate in West Side Story, I knew this was something I simply had to try – or I’d regret it. So, for once, I took a risk – while leaning on the advice of one of my role models, Shane Battier.

He had visited my high school, Detroit Country Day, during my eighth grade year to have his jersey retired. His speech that day followed many themes. But one piece of advice never left my mind. Shane said, “I regret not participating in a play when I was in high school. I challenge you to do something different.”

I loved playing basketball, but it was time to take a chance and try something new. I knew I would miss out on an amazing opportunity to sing and act if I continued playing basketball.

But there was much more to consider in making my choice.

After proving my abilities to the our varsity basketball coach as a sophomore on the junior varsity, I was moved up for the rest of that season. I had been waiting to be a part of the Lady Jackets’ tradition ever since I joined the Detroit Country Day community in 2005. I could hardly believe that all my hard work had finally paid off.

Once that season concluded with a disappointing loss in the MHSAA Class B Final, I was ready to help the team, in every way possible, achieve our goal of winning the championship the next season.

Then West Side Story became a possibility as well.

One day, I was discussing whether I should continue playing basketball or participate in a play, which always had been one of my dreams. As I listed the positives and negatives of both activities, my mom simply said, “Remember the advice Shane Battier gave in that speech at your school?”

I had an epiphany. I realized the decision I needed to make. 

I took a chance deciding to try something different, which honestly was one of the most challenging decisions I had to make in high school. High School is about finding your passions. You won’t know what you are passionate about unless you take a chance and try it.

Basketball still is my passion, but I have learned that sometimes we limit ourselves to one path and ignore our other passions because that is easier than challenging ourselves to try something different.

Butterflies filled my stomach as the curtains drew for our first show. I knew this feeling; I also had been nervous before basketball games, waiting for the cheers after I stole the ball or hit a quick jumper.

I used my sassy Jersey accent to portray my character from West Side Story. As laughter filled the air, my fear defused, giving me confidence in my performance – and reaffirming, for me, that I’d made the right choice.

Maria Buczkowski, Detroit Country Day senior 

  • Sports: Volleyball, basketball in ninth and 10th grades
  • Non-sports activities: Class Board (president), yearbook editor, community service club, theatre
  • Favorite class: Theory of Knowledge
  • Must-see TV: "Glee"
  • One shining moment: I did a pancake in our (volleyball) game versus Cranbrook this year, and we scored off of it.
  • What's next: I plan on studying biology or pre-law at the University of Michigan.
  • My favorite part of game day is: ... the pre-game speeches from our coaches.

PHOTOS courtesy of Maria Buczkowski.

Performance of the Week: St. Johns' Isabel Thelen

May 23, 2024

Isabel Thelen headshotIsabel Thelen ♦ St. Johns
Senior ♦ Tennis

Playing as part of St. Johns’ singles lineup for the fourth season – and at No. 1 singles for the second straight – Thelen will bring a 22-1 record into next weekend’s Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals at Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University. Thelen won her Regional last week, giving up only five games total in sweeping all three matches that day while also helping the Redwings finish runner-up to advance to the Finals as a team.

All of Thelen’s wins this spring have come in two sets, and her only loss was to Battle Creek Lakeview’s Maddy Simonds, who will be playing in the Division 2 Finals next weekend. Thelen also claimed the No. 1 singles championship at the Capital Area Activities Conference Red Tournament on Tuesday, winning both matches 6-0, 6-0. She’s a combined 91-10 during her high school career, and she also capped her basketball career this winter earning all-area and all-league honors. She will study next at Lansing Community College, possibly health sciences.

@mhsaasports 🎾POW: Isabel Thelen #tennis #stjohns #letsgo #champion #part1 #highschoolsports #tiktalk #interview #performanceoftheweek #mistudentaid #fyp #MHSAA ♬ original sound - MHSAA

@mhsaasports 🎾POW: Isabel Thelen #tiktalk #questiontime #part2 #culvers #cat #airheadextreme #night #sand #beach #performanceoftheweek #mistudentaid #fyp #MHSAA ♬ original sound - MHSAA

Follow the MHSAA on TikTok.'s "Performance of the Week" features are powered by MI Student Aid, a division within the Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential (MiLEAP). MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

Past 2023-24 Honorees

May 16: Ally Katinas, Novi lacrosse - Report
May 9:
Peter Roehl, Rochester Adams - Report
May 2:
Lilah Smith, Richland Gull Lake soccer - Report
April 25:
Mason Mayne, Lawton track & field - Report
April 18:
Alli Wright, Jenison softball - Report
April 11:
Chloe Wishart, Trenton soccer - Report
March 28:
Jenna Maki, Ishpeming basketball - Report
March 22:
Jaremiah Palmer, Niles Brandywine basketball - Report
March 15:
Leah Hodge, North Farmington gymnastics - Report
March 8:
Darius Marines, Detroit Catholic Central wrestling - Report
March 1:
Rylee Smith, Zeeland West bowling - Report
Feb. 22:
Caleb Lewandowski, Traverse City West skiing - Report
Feb. 15:
Jadin Mix, Onaway basketball - Report
Feb. 8:
Onalee Wallis, Cadillac skiing - Report
Feb. 1:
Abbey DeGraw, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek competitive cheer - Report
Jan. 25:
Ewan Todd, Riverview swimming - Report
Jan. 18:
Ashley Weller, Jackson Northwest basketball - Report
Jan. 11:
Michael Baldwin, Saginaw Arthur Hill wrestling - Report
Dec. 15:
Jena Fijolek, Fenton bowling - Report
Dec. 8:
Sophia Wagner, Escanaba gymnastics - Report
Dec. 1:
Isaiah Marshall, Southfield Arts & Technology football - Report
Nov. 24:
Sarah Bradley, Clarkston Everest Collegiate volleyball - Report
Nov. 17:
Kalieb Osborne, Waterford Mott football - Report
Nov. 10:
Tekalegn Vlasma, Muskegon Western Michigan Christian soccer - Report
Nov. 3:
Colton Kinnie, Birmingham Seaholm football - Report
Oct. 27:
Lauren Timpf, Macomb Lutheran North golf - Report
Oct. 20:
Alena Li, Okemos golf - Report
Oct. 13:
Seth Norder, Grand Haven cross country - Report
Oct. 5:
Paige Anderson, Muskegon Reeths-Puffer golf - Report
Sept. 29:
MacKenzie Bisballe, Lake City volleyball - Report
Sept. 22:
Jhace Massey, Gladwin football - Report
Sept. 15:
Kaylee Draper, Sturgis swimming - Report
Sept. 8:
Owen Jackson, Traverse City St. Francis tennis - Report
Sept. 1:
Rachel Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country - Report

(Action photo by Alex Parsons; headshot by Iryshe Photography.)