By Jonathan Nonnie/For CU-CitizenAccess.org — A sports-related injury can be a devastating event in the life of an active young adult. But for Nealay Kalita, a sophomore student at the University of Illinois, a torn ACL lead to a leadership position.
Kalita, a native of Champaign, attended University Laboratory High School. In his time there, he was an outstanding runner and a state competitor in track and field. During his senior year, he tore his ACL while playing basketball. The injury prevented him from participating in his final season of track and field, but he embraced the opportunity in front of him.
Nealay’s knowledge of the sport allowed him to mentor his teammates while he sat out. When he chose to attend the University of Illinois, he continued his leadership at University High.
In just his first year of college, he became the head coach of the eighth grade sprinters for University Laboratory High School’s track and field team. He is younger than almost all high school coaches, but his experience and coaching style make him an effective leader. He motivates his runners and pushes them in practice so they have success in meets. He enjoys seeing his runners improve through their hard work, guided by his instruction.
Nealay Kalita gives back to his alma mater, University Laboratory High School, through coaching a sport that he loves.
This project is the culmination of University of Illinois students’ work during spring 2014 as part of the multimedia reporting course taught by Professor Charles “Stretch” Ledford. The students were instructed to select a topic of interest and use audio and video to share that story. The resulting multimedia projects give an in-depth look at small segments with the Champaign-Urbana community.