When Chelsea Pawlak signed with Eastern Illinois University track last month, she became the first three-sport athlete in Dee-Mack High School history to earn a Division I scholarship.
“It’s kind of great to know that such a small school athlete (could do it),” said Pawlak. “We have so
many great athletes that come through the school.”
However, Pawlak was very close to missing out on earning a college track scholarship. And she was very close to not being a trailblazing athlete at her high school.
Growing up her favorite sport was soccer, she played it year-round. Dee-Mack doesn’t have a soccer
“I was thinking about going to Peoria Notre Dame,” said Pawlak. “My whole (youth) team, we were all thinking
about going to Notre Dame at the time.”
The Pawlak family moved from Washington to Mackinaw when Chelsea was in fifth grade.
She played volleyball in grade school just to make friends. She played basketball in high school just to stay busy.
She was part of a state title-wining relay team as a freshman on the track squad. But soccer was her sports of choice.
“She talked about (going to Notre Dame) in eighth grade and I did tell her that I would be disappointed because I knew how much talent she would bring to the track program,” said Dee-Mack track coach Jeff Witte. “I remember the day she said she was coming to Dee-Mack. I said I can’t wait for track season.”
Ironically, Pawlak hopes to finish her prep track career at the state meet at O’Brien Stadium which is located on the campus where she will run cross country this fall. Her soccer and volleyball commitments prevented her from ever going out for cross country.
“I’m really excited because I’ve never done cross country. I’m excited to see where I can go with that,” said Pawlak. “It’s scary but I’m ready for the next adventure.”