“Captain of Captains”: Emma Spignese-Smolinsky Cross Country Captain Profile

After a successful end to the Girls’ cross country season, it is important to shine a light on a leader who never failed to push herself and her teammates to new limits, senior captain Emma Spignese-Smolinsky. With her encouraging and positive attitude, Spignese-Smolinsky has left an indelible influence on the cross-country department and Malden High as a whole. 

Living in Malden since the fifth grade, Spignese-Smolinsky started her running career at a young age, joining the middle school cross country team and never looking back. “I started running in seventh grade and just kept going from there,” Spignese-Smolinsky shared.

Captains Hadjar Yousfi and Emma Spignese-Smolinsky pose with their coaches during a meet. NATHAN DEAN

Head coach Micheal Nicholson recalls Spignese-Smolinsky possessing amazing leadership qualities from a young age, “We call her our captain of captains because she has always been a leader, and that's been like that since middle school, and fortunately I got to see her do it in high school as well.” 

Transitioning into high school cross country, Spignese-Smolinsky remained just as determined according to Assistant coach Sean Weldon. “I've known her since her freshman year, since then she has been a staple to the girls’ cross country team and has been absolutely awesome as captain the past two years.” 

Spignese-Smolinsky was named captain at the start of her junior year and the team couldn’t have been in better hands since. 

Another reason why Spignese-Smolinsky has been such a phenomenal leader is her ability to create an open and supportive environment for her teammates. “She creates an environment that’s so welcoming for the whole team and she helps motivate us to work harder,” senior Rolando Mejia concurred. 

Besides being an important motivational asset to her team, Spignese-Smolinsky is also an extremely dedicated athlete who is constantly working towards improvement. She recalls this season as a good one where she and her team were able to improve a lot. “She’s always trying to outdo herself each and every meet which is what we love to see because in cross country it's more about making yourself better each time than beating the other team,” Nicholson explained. 

At the end of the day, Spignese-Smolinsky’s optimistic and bubbly personality trumps all as she is unfailing in her efforts to radiate positivity to those around her. Mejia said, “She never fails to lighten my mood,” and Nicholson added, “She's always that upbeat person talking to people, having friendly conversations, and usually anyone that's talking to her is smiling.” 

Spignese-Smolinsky looks back at her time in cross country very fondly and doesn’t regret any of it. “I’m really glad that I made the decision to join cross country and stick with it. It was an amazing experience that I am sad to leave behind,” Spignese-Smolinsky concluded. 

Such an influential member of the community will clearly leave big shoes to fill in her absence and Weldon seems to agree. “It's going to be really tough moving on without her. We’re definitely sad that she’s not going to be our captain anymore. But she’s done a great job leading the younger athletes on the team and we hope to see her influence on the team with them for the next couple of years. It's been really an honor knowing her over these years and seeing how much she has grown in that time.

Captains Hadjar Yousfi and Emma Spignese-Smolinsky posing with underclassmen on the team. NATHAN DEAN

It is evident that there are great things in store for Spignese-Smolinsky’s future after displaying compassion, leadership, and overall determination over her years of being cross country captain. “She’s going to be successful no matter what she does. I wish her the best of luck in any future endeavors,” Nicholson expressed. 

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