PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Oakland Catholic High School is proud to be able to say that two of its alumnae won gold medals in the Olympic games in Rio last month. Thursday morning, Amanda Polk came home to show off her hardware from the summer games.
“She was motivated. She applied herself. She was hard working, and she still is all those things. So who she was in high school — who she was when she sat where you are sitting — is who she has become and who she continues to be today,” said President Mary Claire Kasunic.
It’s rare to see and hold an Olympic gold medal. It’s more uncommon to have an Olympic gold medal winner come from your high school.
“Spirituality, scholarship, service. She is truly an Oakland Catholic woman,” said Athletic Director George Rudolph.
Amanda Polk graduated from Oakland Catholic in 2004. She took up rowing while at OC as a way to train for basketball. But as a rower, she earned a scholarship to Notre Dame, and eventually a spot on the U.S. National Team. She qualified for the London Olympic games as an alternate — but never got to row.
“It’s incredible to realize what I have done but a lot of what I think about is my journey and how hard it has come — especially from London — or even from rowing at Notre Dame, there were challenges there in the classroom,” Polk said.
But last month in Rio, the Bloomfield native helped row the women’s eight boat to its third straight Olympic gold.
“I have not be told the, I guess, etiquette of how to wear it or how to pose with it. I am pretty good at posing with it. That’s my favorite. I figured that part out,” Polk joked.
But her message to the current students was much more serious.
“Try to keep an even balance and remember you might have a bad day, you might have a good day, but you have to keep improving, and you have to realize that your ultimate goal is not the next day, it’s over a longer course of time,” she said.
Allegheny County Council, the City of Pttsburgh and Pittsburgh City Council all declared it Amanda Polk Day.
“This gets you a lot. It does not get you out of speeding tickets or paying meters, but pretty much anything else you want is yours today,” said Pittsburgh City Councilman Dan Gilman.
But really this day was about the pride a Pittsburgh girl gave her hometown — and her alma mater.