A little over a year ago, Portola High track coach Cale Kavanaugh was telling his assistant coach about their need for a sprinter, a jumper and a team leader.
The next day, after meeting a North Carolina transfer student, Kavanaugh texted his assistant: “We found our missing piece, and her name is Alex Richmond.”
Richmond went on to set six school records – in the 100-meter, 200-meter, long jump, high jump, 4-by-100 and 4-by-200 – and was named the Pacific Coast League’s track MVP.
“She’s the most decorated female track athlete Portola has ever had,” Kavanaugh says. “She is the very heart and soul of our program.”
How did she do it?
For one thing, she’s trained as an athlete since age 5. For another, she has an “incredible work ethic,” according to Kavanaugh, which includes personal workouts that she stacks on top of team workouts.
Then there’s her secret weapon.
Before every big race, ever since seventh grade, she sings to herself: “I Will Survive.”
“I started when I was a kid,” she says, laughing. “But I still sing it. It motivates me to keep pushing.”
It seems to be working. The day before this interview, she took first in long jump, first in the 100-meter, first in the 4-by-100 (with her team) and second in the 200-meter.
“I love that feeling when I’m in the zone,” she says. “I feel like I could do anything, like this is my time to shine.”
Richmond began playing tennis at age 5 and gymnastics at age 7 – training four days a week for five years.
In seventh grade, a coach said, ‘You’re fast. You should try out for track.”
She did and immediately fell in love. All those years of gymnastics gave her endurance and strength and flexibility. She began winning right away.
Now a senior, Richmond serves as a Portola team captain.
“She always has fun at practice and can be very goofy, which brings out the best in her teammates,” Kavanaugh says. “And she’s not afraid to challenge her teammates to step up if they’re not bringing their best.”
In her off time, she has an obsession with Minions from the movie of the same name (pillows, blankets, backpacks, you name it), watches “Ironman” movies with her dad (“It’s like our bonding.”) and meets friends at Spectrum Center.
And while the 4.0-GPA student hasn’t settled on a college yet, she wants to run collegiate track while studying to be a dentist.
“My favorite subjects are all STEM classes,” she says. “I love chemistry and science.”