Elise Adelle Cerami was known as many things to many people. She was a loved one, a friend, a sister, our daughter. Her tenacity allowed her to be an exceptional student and a dedicated, enthusiastic athlete. I was always in awe of her passion.
We encouraged Elise early on to find a lifelong sport that she could incorporate into a healthy lifestyle. In her quest to find that sport, she started with tennis at age four. By age seven, she added swimming to the mix.
At first, I wasn’t sure how her adventure with swimming would go. When she tried out for the Southlake Stingrays, a recreational summer league program, Elise could only swim two or three strokes before holding onto the wall. Nevertheless, she completed the full 25-yard free requirement—and, in fact, she was so confident in her performance that she walked over to the coaches afterward and let them know that she would return the next day for practice. Almost dropping their clipboards, the coaches asked if Elise could perhaps take some lessons prior to the season’s start date. But she was on the team.
During her first two years of swimming, Elise came out of the blocks like a sack of potatoes, only to catch her competitors during the stroke. By age nine, Elise joined the North Texas Nadadores, a USA Swim Club in Southlake, Texas. She favored swimming the 200 breast stroke and worked endlessly to perfect her back-to-breast stroke turn for her individual medley. She begged to attend swim camps, teen Crossfit classes, and yoga so that she could become stronger for her sport. And she was always eager to learn more. Her age group coach, Abby Turner, recalls Elise’s brown eyes getting wider and brighter as they discussed racing, training, and technique.
Again and again, Elise would set—then obliterate—goals for improvement. So it was no surprise that by the end of 8th grade, she was named to the Varsity Dragon roster for her upcoming freshman year at Southlake Carroll High School. Her father, brother, and I were immeasurably proud.
Elise truly believed that she was meant to be in the water, not on land. Her passion for swimming was evident to anyone who knew her—and that capacity for passion, that depth of spirit, influenced everything she did. Elise found great value in getting to know the people around her. Her positive energy and inviting smile would make anyone feel as though they had known her forever. Her friends, coaches, and teachers have told me over and over what a motivation she was, what a light in our world. It is my sincere hope to share the light of Elise with you.
Elise’s Biggest Fan,