By Vivian Thuy Nguyen ’21
A flower-of-a-freshman, Laura Gulbinas sat down with The Bamboo as yet another honorary member of “Freshman Spotlight.” The newspaper column highlights talented freshmen and dives into the history of their successes. As for Gulbinas, both Varsity Cross Country and Track & Field have been her area of expertise, on top of many other achievements.
Since third grade, Gulbinas has been flying on the track. Sixth grade was the first year of her experience on a school track team as a student at St. James Holy Redeemer School. Middle school was definitely a highlight for her academic career. Placing in literature for the Los Angeles Archdiocese Decathlon and earning the title of valedictorian were a few notable achievements, Gulbinas recalls.
Yet, high school provided a new combination of life experiences Gulbinas says she was surprised to encounter. During the cross country season, Gulbinas incurred an injury that rendered her unable to run for a while – and yet she came back. “It felt terrible not to be running alongside the team, but it felt nice to be back,” recounts the runner. The sports banquet marked a special night of her high school athletic career as it brought all athletes together for recognition of their passions. As the Immaculate Heart cross country coach spoke about the individual athletes that night, she remarked “I thought Laura was going to quit in the first few weeks of the season, with her injuries. But she stayed and sticked through it, which surprised me.”
“Sticking through it” might be just the thing that has fueled Gulbinas’s successes. She professes that she has run all these years because it’s helped her mentally almost as much as physically. For long distance running, Gulbinas observes, “It’s a great time to think serenely, with nothing bothering you. But for track, everyone is running as fast as you can. You can’t think about anything except about making it to the finish line. That sort of environment is invigorating.” The duality of the two sports is usually only mastered by very few athletes. But IHHS, Gulbinas found, provided the daily dose of motivation integral to her ambition to finish through. “Usually, I can’t work out by myself,” admits Gulbinas. “The IHHS community has been vital to my success.”
Recounting all of the ways IHHS has helped her push through all pain and fatigue, Gulbinas ends with her appreciation of “a bunch of the little things — like the kindness of the upperclassmen here.” She states, “On my first day, my coach asked a runner from the junior class to help me, and she was incredibly nice. I have great times with my team every day. It’s laughing at the little things and all these memories that have made my life so much better since joining.”
IHHS has that communal love that surpasses all boundaries of class, and it is probably the closest us freshmen have gotten to experiencing “God’s harmonious world” in this Messianic age. With girls like Gulbinas and other freshmen who hold testament for the love that flies around campus daily, it can truly be said that the future of IHHS lies in good hands.
As for the future, Gulbinas has a blank slate that is yet to be written on. “I’d like to do something in which I can earn a comfortable life, but also what I enjoy doing,” Gulbinas says, “I am always taken by surprise when my parents and friends ask about my plans for the future.” Gulbinas appreciates living in the moment, listening to music, and reading. As for inspiration, Gulbinas says that she is motivated by the classmates she has at school. “Everyone here is so talented and smart. Seeing people be able to do what is difficult for me makes me try harder and achieve the expectation I’ve raised for myself.”
At the end of the day, Laura Gulbinas says that what most important to her is to “seize the moments and opportunities because everything is temporary. Enjoy life, have fun, do what makes you happy.” Gulbinas sends love to all her team members, fellow freshman, and to IHHS for all the wonderful things they have done for her thus far!