"Casi is a senior at Hillcrest high school and is in her second year of JV racing. She is the unofficial head cheerleader and team captain of the Hillcrest Cottonwood composite team. I believe she embodies what we as coaches and leaders in the league are trying to accomplish with these kids. Casi is in the Internationale Baccalaureate Diploma program at school taking a full load of AP, IB, and Honors classes, she is an honor roll student, and was awarded the designation of AP Scholar with Honor from the AP College Board. Even with her extremely challenging school work load, and busy work schedule she has made time to train for the Mountain Bike race season attending practices and setting goals for each race. Her results this year while not podium worthy, are personal records and a huge leap from last year. She loves racing almost as much as she enjoys being with the team and supporting the other riders on race day. A great example of her Spirit and Character was last weekends race at Snowbasin. Friday evening we pre-rode the course as a team and shortly after she started developing the early signs of the migraine headaches that occasionally plague her. By Saturday morning it was clear there was no way she would be able to race. Despite the pain and disappointment of not being able to compete she persuaded her Mom to drive her to Snowbasin so she could be there to support and cheer for her teammates all day. All season long she has acted as the unofficial captain contacting all the kids from both schools, coordinating and calling practices and helping out the coaches. On race day you will only find her in the pitzone just prior to or after her race. She will be among the first to arrive in the morning long before her wave to make sure someone is there too cheer for the first wave, after her race she will come into the pit drop her bike and run to the staging area to cheer the start of the next wave, then grab the rest of the team and get out on course to cheer for not only her teammates but every racer that goes by. Casi will likely never be an elite athlete or podium in a NICA race, but she has developed as a rider, taken advantage of skills clinics, set goals and accomplished them, and been a great example of teamwork and leadership to those around her."
This was written by Casi Branch's coach on the Hillcrest/Cottonwood Composite team in 2014, and demonstrates the difference one student can make on a team.