by Gianna Salib ’22 and Mikayla Salib ’22
Published Feb. 24th, 2021
Wherever MHS junior Daniela Spera goes, she brings the heat. Dominating on the track, in the gym, and within the community, she has proven that she can overcome any challenge that comes her way.
Amid Daniela’s daily activities like volunteer firefighting, coaching flag football, participating in track and field, being an MHS football statistician, and lifting weights, she is constantly compared to the men who dominate these fields. “I have to stand strong and redefine what people think of me and what they want to make of me,” Daniela said. “You are the only one stopping yourself from accomplishing anything you want.”
Daniela shared how being recognized for her achievements becomes dulled when gender stereotypes are brought into the conversation. She explained, “The fact that I am a female results in people giving out a lot of backhanded compliments. ‘You’re strong for a girl’ is not acknowledging that I am a strong person, rather, it is acknowledging that I’m only strong compared to other girls.”
As a child, Daniela’s mother was someone whom she could relate to and pull inspiration from. “My mom is my role model and the strongest person I know,” Daniela said. “She taught me resilience, independence, and the importance of my character.” And now, following in her mother’s footsteps, becoming a role model for other girls who want to pursue activities in areas that are typically for boys is something Daniela takes immense responsibility and pride in. She is committed to “being a trailblazer for little girls… and being that person [she] needed while growing up.”
The kind of physical and mental strength she needed to have in order to be someone that others look up to came from the lessons she learned through hardships. Daniela fractured her back in seventh grade, an injury she believes taught her resilience at a young age.
She explained, “It was so hard to have this injury because being active was a huge part of who I was.” This injury forced her to learn to see the bigger picture and adapt to difficult situations to complete the goal at hand: “This physical healing also correlated to mental and emotional healing that I experienced and it really made me take a step back.” Daniela is back and stronger than ever, holding a majority of the girls’ records in the MHS weight room.
Daniela Spera exemplifies what true strength looks like. No matter where she goes, she blazes a new trail, leaving a path for others to follow.