A-Lister Profiles!

Olympic Athlete…in FIVE Sports

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go to the Olympics for one sport? How about two? Well, Isabella Isaksen competed in FIVE sports. A-List Girl interviewed Isabella to learn from her experience.

Both Isabella and her sister competed in the same Olympic event, the pentathlon. The pentathlon is a combined Olympic event which includes fencing, swimming, equestrian show jumping, and a combined event of a 3k run and pistol shooting. Isabella competed in Rio in 2016, while her sister Margaux started eight years before her, competing in 2008, 2012, again in 2016.


Isabella decided she wanted to be an Olympic pentathlete when she saw her sister compete four years before her. She dreamed of becoming an Olympian from a small age and wanted to live up to that dream. Her motto is, “You can do anything you want to do, as long as you are willing to work hard enough.”

When she started dreaming of competing in the Olympic pentathlon event, some people told her she was too old to begin training. But as she followed her motto, she made it to the Olympics and proved she could do it. Although Isabella did not medal, she is learning from her mistakes and training to medal in Tokyo, 2020.

About the Pentathlon

The athletes start off with fencing, which is a sport where you use a long stick-like sword called a epee to hit your opponents target, which is the stomach area. You only get a minute to hit the other person. Just one hit and you win. If a hit isn’t made in the certain amount of time, no one gets the point. The winner with the least amount of losses then has the most amount of points, with every person getting points based on how many wins/losses they have.


The athletes then have to swim a 200 meter freestyle (four laps). The person with the fastest time gets the most amount of points, and everyone else gets points based on their times as well.

After the swim, they move on to show jumping and get assigned a horse. It is random draw for a horse, and you have only 20 minutes to get the feel of a horse you’ve never ridden! You ride a timed jumper course as quickly and cleanly as you can. If you are under the time limit and have the least amount of penalties (for rails knocked off jumps), you get the most points, and again, points awarded to others based on finishes.

Then finally, you start the combined run/shoot. The person with the most amount of points goes first, while the person who has the second most points goes second, and so on. To start, you run 800 meters and then laser shoot at a target 10 meters away. Then you run another 800 and shoot, etc.


The winner of the pentathlon is the person who finishes the run/shoot first! All of this happens over only two days.

How You Can Do It, Too!

Becoming an Olympic athlete in one sport seems challenging. Becoming an Olympic athlete in so many sports seems nearly impossible! But you can do it, too, if you have talent and drive. Here are Isabella’s suggestions.

For Isabella, the hardest event was swimming because she started at a older age than most others. She says you must practice running and swimming most, and when you get older, practice fencing and shooting. Her advice is to stick with your sport no matter what. She says it can be a challenge when the majority of people don’t know about the pentathlon. But, Isabella encouraged that “If you stick with it I promise the reward of knowing you’ve physically and mentally conquered a sport is worth it.”

Training can also be a challenge when there are so many different sports to master! Isabella told us, “Coordinating training can be half the battle as five sports can have you driving across town.” Not only must you be dedicated, but a dedicated parent, who will help you get the proper training, is also important.

If you are interested, in order to get in to the Olympics, you must race all the people in the world (the top 36 men and women from each nation) and then your nation picks the top two women and men. Most of the competitions are held in Colorado at The Olympic Training Center, so Isabella said that it’s much easier if you also live in Colorado! You can find out more about the Olympic pentathlon team here.

Final words of advice from Isabella: ” I think the most important thing anyone can tell themselves is simply that they can.”

About the Author 

Camille L. is a 6th grade student/athlete who hopes to become an Olympian in the pentathlon. She has run in the National Junior Olympics for both track and cross country. She has also competed in Junior Olympics in swimming, and has been riding horses since she was two. She plans to take up fencing in 2017.


Girl Plans to Colonize Mars

Have you ever looked up into space and thought “Wow! we’ve traveled to the moon, but we haven’t gotten to Mars quite yet?” Inspiring 15-year-old Alyssa Carson is training for a position to be amongst the first people to colonize Mars.

Alyssa was inspired to go to Mars at age 3 when she watched an episode of the TV show “The Backyardigans: Mission to Mars.” Who would have thought that a children’s TV show would inspire possibly one of the first people to colonize the Red Planet?

Training for Mars

For training, she’s gone to all the NASA space camps around the world. She’s had to do many crazy things in training. At a space camp, they took some of her oxygen away so she would remember how it felt. Losing oxygen is called hypoxias, and she needs to recognize the symptoms in case there is an oxygen breach in space. She described the experience by saying, “It was pretty fun. My symptoms are euphoria, where you start laughing and you can’t stop. My entire body went numb. It was a pretty cool learning experience.”

Alyssa learns English, Spanish, French, and Chinese at school, because going to Mars is going to be a world mission and she needs to understand everyone. She also goes to many classes, including classes at the PoSSUM (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere) Academy and just finish a course at MIT on aerospace dynamics.

She also is attending classes to become SCUBA certified and to get her pilot’s license. SCUBA diving certification is a big part of her training. Because of space’s lack of gravity, she must get used to floating around if she will ever successfully travel to Mars. To do this, she goes SCUBA diving. Just like space, water has a lack of gravity and is a great way to get used to her new life.

Alyssa’s next big project is to be able to take a test flight in the next two to three years. The mission would last about four to six hours and would take her to space and back. She is talking to companies like Virgin Galactic to see what additional training she would need. She would like to do the space flight at the age of seventeen so she would be the youngest person in space.

Alyssa also has balance in her life with extracurricular activities like soccer, ballet, and piano. “I haven’t necessarily done (extra activities because) I thought it would help me to become an astronaut. I just kind of did those things because I wanted to.” She did say, though, taking part in sports like soccer help her stay in shape.

Incredible Sacrifices

If Alyssa leaves to go to Mars in 20 years, she probably won’t come back and will probably spend the rest of her life in space. Can you imagine leaving your friends and family and never coming home? She says what she going to miss most about Earth, besides the people, is nature. “Mars is cold dusty and rocky. Earth has air, trees and running water. So the whole nature feeling of Earth is what I would miss.” Alyssa has to miss important and fun activities, like the last day of school, to do her training.

Despite this, she is not nervous about going to space because she met the people who were working on the rockets. They are very concerned about the safety of astronauts and they seemed to know what they were doing.

How you can do it, too

Alyssa hopes her mission will inspire other kids to take on a science, space or math career. She said “There’s not really a set course to become an astronaut because there are so many different ways to get into it. You have the civilian track or you have the military track. Some people go in as scientists, some people go in as pilots, some people go in at doctors. So for a space career there’s basically the same jobs (on Earth)… There are really so many different jobs, depending on what you want to focus on.”

For example, her focus is science: “The job that I would like to pursue is being a Mission Specialist on the mission to Mars. And some of the things I would do is I would study the geology and biology aspect of the planet… going out and doing experiments, testing the soil, testing for signs of life… being one of the main scientists on the mission.”

Alyssa is a very inspiring person. She shows people that they must work hard to accomplish something. She thinks that you can do anything at any age. “I don’t think your age can really limit you,” she said.

If you want to pursue a dream, just do what Alyssa does. Stay focused, and don’t give up, no matter what obstacles you have to overcome. Maybe someday, you’ll pursue a dream just as big as Alyssa’s, or even bigger.

About the Reporter

Jayda Meeks is 11 years old and is an aspiring computer programer. Along with programing and computers, she loves writing, singing and art. She also has a deep love of video games and anything Nintendo.


Amherst Swimmer Tells How to Make It to the Collegiate Level

Ever wonder what it’s like to swim at college level? Have you ever thought about trying to fit in with a group, enjoy your experiences, and also improve your sport? Division 3 swimmer, Clare Leonard, has experienced all of these situations and has been successfully swimming and getting an excellent education at Amherst College.

How Clare Got Her Start

Clare Leonard started swimming at the age of 10. She had been swimming at a community pool over the summer. She and some friends discovered a local swim team, Swim City in Long Beach, CA, that competed regularly, and she decided to swim full time. She continued to swim with Swim City and also with her high school, Long Beach Polytechnic. Her goals were to improve her sport and excel in school. With her work ethic, she achieved success in school and in swim.


She is currently in her second year at Amherst, where she swims the Fly. Academically, she is also excelling and has completed a summer internship at Stanford where she studied exoplanets.

Clare loves so many things about the sport; she loves how it feels to drop time, to work hard, and loves the environment of hardworking and determined people. She says she has always had supportive coaches, and even though swimming is an individual sport she always feels a team aspect associated with it.

Clare’s Suggestions for Future Collegiate Swimmers

Clare began emailing coaches all over the country about her swimming while in high school. Clare knew that she not only wanted a good swimming experience but also a great education. She informed and updated them about her times, test scores, etc. After conversing with the coach of the Amherst swim team, she traveled to the college and practiced with the team to get a feel of what it would be like. She instantly knew she would be attending Amherst if accepted. Clare got early admission to Amherst and looked forward to all of her experiences.

As far as training and nutrition, Clare suggests staying focused and giving 100% at every practice. She shared that it is very easy to eat unhealthy, especially in college. Clare suggests you always eat enough and eat food with a lot of nutrients.

Clare’s number one suggestion for swimming is that you wear comfortable and fitted suits. She suggests Jolyn and Nike suits. As far as gear, Clare said that her gear is provided by Amherst. But, growing up she wore Speedo fins and TYR goggles.

Some Additional Suggestions 

If you are interested in starting on a swim team, check out USA Swimming to find a great swim club near you.

If you are a current swimmer, get inspired by watching Touch the Wall, the Missy Franklin/Kara Lynn Joyce documentary.

Great books for inspiration include:

Grayson, the true story of a teen girl, training to swim to Catalina Island, who saved a baby gray whale by swimming with it back out to sea

Young Woman and the Sea, about Trudy Ederle, the first woman to swim the English Channel

About the Author
untitledIsabella Reina is a 7th grade swimmer who has been in the sport since she was five years old. She has competed at county wide and state meets, and has been to seven Junior Olympics. Clare was her former teammate and one of her mentors.

How an 11-year-old girl found her mojo and earned a Junior Black Belt

At only eleven-years-old, Rheya successfully earned her junior black belt last month from Power of One Karate in Long Beach. It was a long and challenging road. Here is her story.

Yes, I finally made it! That is what went through my mind when we received the email inviting me for the junior black belt test. I was so excited that my instructors thought I was ready for this test!  This also meant a lot of hard work needed to be done in order to be prepared for the test.

Achieving my junior black belt means very much to me because ever since I started karate,

Rheya practiced all the time (here at age 8 in Hawaii

I had set a goal to earn my junior black belt. I really admired the Karate instructors.   They were full of energy and made martial arts fun to learn. At that time it seemed like an easy goal to set. However, it was very difficult at times and I thought I never would make it. Yes, there were times when I wanted to give up because the curriculum was getting harder (I really remember the time I was learning Long Form 4, I kept practicing and practicing until I learned it. It took me awhile but I got it). I had set a goal and I wanted to persevere and not give up. I did not want to disappoint my instructors, my parents, or myself by quitting. I am glad that I did not give up and finally made it junior black belt. Yes, it took great amount of work, practice and perseverance, but I accomplished my goal. I felt proud of myself!

Rheya’s junior black belt ceremony

Earning my junior black belt means I accomplished and followed through with my goal that I had set six years ago. Over the years, I have learned to believe in myself, and to work hard. I have gained multiple important, valuable skills and knowledge from the instructors at Power of One.   I don’t think I would have been able learn these skills without karate. The Instructors all believed in me, so that gave me self- confidence to believe in myself that I can do this!

My future goal is to continue with my martial arts training and work toward my adult black belt test in the near future.   I know this will take hard work, perseverance and dedication, but my training so far has taught me not to give up so I won’t! I look forward to working with my karate teammates and instructors to continue learning and growing in my martial arts!

You can be a black belt, too!

If you are interested in learning karate, I would suggest going to a dojo near you and trying classes for a few months. You can try out the curriculum and see how you like it. Along with self-defense, you will learn life skills.

If you are interested in sparring (practice fighting), some gear you will need to take to your classes would be you sparring gear. Sparring is a great workout and you learn how to block your opponent’s punches or kicks. The gear consists of one pair of hand and feet pads, head gear, and a mouth guard.(chest guard is optional). In addition, you will need to wear a gi, which your karate studio usually provides.

Competitions are important because it is a time where you can show off what you have learned from your instructors and fellow students. Also, you can gain and learn so much from other competitors and use that knowledge in your own training. Even if you do not win, you will walk away a winner knowing you learned something new and can get better the next time.

One of my karate favorite movies is Karate Kid. Karate is not really like the movie, but it’s great to see the flying side kicks and stunts, and maybe it will inspire you!

Good luck, and leave a comment if you have other book, gear, or website recommendations for girls who are interested in karate!




You go (vote), girl…thanks to Madeline McDowell Breckinridge

Note from the editor:

It seems unbelievable now, when we have a woman running for President, but it was not that long ago that women were not even allowed to cast a vote.

Everyone knows the work of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, who fought for the 19th Amendment and women’s rights to vote. There were also many others, though, who fought for those rights and are not as well known.

We asked Katie S.,who is a senior at Long Beach Poly High School and a political activist, to write a bit about a woman we may not know. Here’s the story of Madeline McDowell Breckinridge, a journalist and activist from Kentucky.


On January 6, 1920, Kentucky was one of only four Southern states to ratify the nineteenth amendment. One of the key women behind that decision was Madeline McDowell Breckinridge. She was born May 20, 1872 in Woodlake, Kentucky. Breckinridge committed her entire life to helping the oppressed, whether that be fighting for playgrounds for kindergarteners,advocating against child labor, creating a community for tuberculosis victims (a disease which she faced herself), or her most known accomplishment, being an outspoken advocate for a woman’s right to vote.

Her successful performance wasn’t effortless. She was in a leading position at multiple organizations- the Kentucky Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Kentucky Equal Rights Association, and the National Woman Suffrage Association just to name a few. She became the first woman to bring together a joint session of the Kentucky legislature in an unsuccessful attempt to advocate for women’s suffrage. In addition to all this, she faced a grueling travel schedule speaking around the South to bring attention to women’s suffrage when many were focused on World War I.

Many have noted that Breckinridge’s work for the ratification of the 19th amendment in Kentucky was crucial, and after her passing on Thanksgiving of 1920, both men and women saw Breckinridge as a valid and important political voice and role model.

How you can do it, too

It is important not to forget the sacrifices of women like Madeline; girls need to stay politically involved and remember the sacrifices others made. It’s essential that we don’t forget the work all suffragettes put in to give women the vote that seems so simple to us now. Politics directly impacts the rights we have, and by being informed and speaking up about politics, girls can make a difference in their communities and beyond.

Even if you are not yet old enough to vote, you still have a voice and can still create change. Here’s how you can get involved in politics in your community:

  • Find your Representative: Write, call, email to let your Representative know of any issues you’d like to change.
  • Get involved in your own school government. Small change in your own community can lead to bigger change.
  • Volunteer for a campaign. If there’s a candidate or measure that you feel strongly about, you can volunteer for the campaign. This can include a lot of different jobs like calling voters, going door-to-door with a team, or just putting together mailers. Contact the local campaign office and ask how you can help.


Katie Seaman is a senior at Long Beach Poly High School in the PACE program. She loves politics, and has traveled to Iowa and Nevada to volunteer for Hillary Clinton. For fun, she likes watching Rupaul’s Drag Race and eating new types of food.


Katie met Madeleine Albright, first woman Secretary of State, while volunteering for Hillary Clinton’s campaign

Only 5% of Visitors Hike Yellowstone??


Most people go to Yellowstone and just stay in their car. According to a ranger in Yellowstone, only 5% of people hike more than a quarter mile from the road. My Girl Scout Troop, Troop 5133,  spent 3 years selling cookies to make it to Yellowstone. Finally in June we reached our goal. We were on our way, and we wanted to be part of that 5%.

Almost every day we were in Yellowstone we hiked. When we drove to The Tetons we hiked. The only days we didn’t hike were when we flew in to Salt Lake City, when we drove to Yellowstone, and when we flew home.

Our biggest accomplishment was when we hiked Mount Washburn. It was named after Henry Washburn, the Surveyor General of the Montana Territory. It is a respectable 5.5 miles round trip with an elevation gain of  1380 feet. This hike took us around 4 hours. On the way up we saw snow and had a snowball fight, and even built a snowman. The best part of the hike was seeing the beautiful wildflowers and bighorn sheep. When we summited, the views were stunning and too good to describe. It is described as having the best view of Yellowstone and the summit has a telescope to see the wonders of the park. It even has a recording book you can put your names in to show you hiked it. If you ever hike it, look for Troop 5133 in the book!


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Yellowstone Recommendations From Troop 5133

  • Mount Washburn!
  • Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone: This is a amazing exhibit of rescued wolves and bears, up close.
  • Firehole River is the best place to go to if you want to cool down by swimming in a river, heated by thermal features. Don’t worry, its not that hot!
  • A good dessert for after dinner or anytime is huckleberry ice cream. It is a very appetizing flavor that you can only get in Yellowstone
  • Uncle Tom’s Trail is another good hike to do. It takes you down many sets of stairs to a cliff in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. There is a waterfall you will never forget.
  • The wildlife in Yellowstone are amazing! Get up early and travel to Lamar Valley to see animals like wolf cubs, bison, elk and bears, as we did on the trip!
  • Take a day trip to Grand Teton National Park, even more beautiful than Yellowstone!

Don’t forget the souvenirs and huckleberries!!

About The Author

Camille Lindsay is a proud Scout of Troop 5133. She loves going on outings and hikes with them. She just finished camping and rock climbing in Joshua Tree with the troop and is excited for her Girl Scout summer trip to Crater Lake next summer.

Women Can’t Play Brass Instruments? Tubad. You’re Wrong.

Gustave Kerker once said, “Women cannot possibly play brass instruments and look pretty, and why should they spoil their good looks?” Yet women, including Alicen, continue to push and break the stereotypes and boundaries women face when it comes down to the art of music. Developing as a musician on the instrument you love is far more important to band kids than a stereotype will ever be. Playing the tuba, especially when you have to march it around the field on one shoulder, is a difficult feat in itself. Yet tuba players like Alicen persevere.

Alicen Nails the Tuba! Go Girl!

Alicen has always been in low brass. She started on the trombone in the fourth grade before switching instruments and has now played the tuba and sousaphone for the past six years, starting at the age of 13. Currently she is a sousaphone player for the Michigan State Spartans marching band, after following in her father’s footsteps.

14212136_10208656632885859_7766243070822167016_nAlicen says, “Personally, I have always been proud of the fact that I am a female tuba player, so I never let anyone say anything mean or sexist to me about it.” There are not many instances in which you find yourself surrounded by female tuba players (or brass players in general). Due to the roots in military signals, brass instruments for many years were solely a male dominated section. Yet, women have risen in number for the various brass instruments, tuba or not.

How to Succeed in Marching Band

Although Alicen and I would suggest taking the plunge into the marching world in high school, the idea of college auditions may be terrifying for most. She suggests, “Really practice the music and memorize the school’s fight song, you will play it all the time. But other than that, just enjoy it. I have some of my best friends through band, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Alicen really hits that sentiment on the head of the nail, as some would say. Marching band has changed my life. It creates memories that will last a lifetime and is an enormous amount of fun. The thrill of putting everything on the field for a crowd is exhilarating and something band students wouldn’t trade for the world.

As a female tuba player turned drum major, my biggest piece of advice to anyone in music is: just go for it. Alicen and I knocked on the door and walked into a whole new world, and it could be the same for you if you’re willing to try.

If the instrument you’re playing right now doesn’t make sense or doesn’t light a fire in your soul, maybe you need a different instrument in your hands. For me, the passion came when I switched from clarinet to tuba, and it could be the same for you.

In high school, the structure of band is a little different from the collegiate level. For example, a show in high school could take two to two-and-a-half months to learn. Yet Alicen says, “We usually have anywhere from a week to three weeks to learn a show. Shows usually have a theme, like the one we are currently working on is a John Williams show. We also have pregame before every game which is our ‘school pride’ show, seeing that we play our fight song many times along with the Alma Mater.”

Marching band is a great experience for kids who like music and want to be a part of a school community.

Here are some other links with advice for aspiring Band Kids:

Preparing for Marching Band Season

Marching Band Advice (student-run blog)

Trumpetmaster (forum for brass musicians)

About the Author:

Alyssa N. is a senior in high school in Long Beach, CA. She is a tuba player and is now drum major of her school marching band. She is one of the editors-in-chief of her school paper and hopes to attend college to study Journalism in fall 2017. She encourages women of all ages to pursue their dreams despite gender stereotypes.

Alyssa conducting her school’s marching band