Luis Valente and I showing off our HS Insider swag.
Trabuco Hills High School

My experience at the 2017 Festival of Books

Covering the 2017 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books for High School Insider was a remarkable experience, from start to finish.

HS Insider working hard together at the Festival of Books.

Running HS Insider’s coverage of the LA84 Foundation and LA2024 Olympic Bid Committee’s work at the festival was especially intriguing, an opportunity I fully embraced. Throughout the weekend I interviewed several incredible Olympians, who made lasting impacts on my development as a young journalist.

Here are some of their stories:

Olga Connolly

Olga Connolly, Gold-medal winning discus thrower and author of “The Rings of Destiny,” is a true inspiration of what hard work and a positive spirit can produce. Connolly, who won gold in 1956 for Czechoslovakia and competed in the ’60, ’64, ’68, and ’72 Olympic Games for the United States, now works as a personal trainer.

Cindy Whitehead

Author of “It’s Not about Pretty: A Book about Radical Skater Girls” and 2016 Skateboard Hall of Fame inductee Cindy Whitehead teaches today’s generation how important it is to stay true to yourself, and be proud of who you are.

“It’s the one thing you have that speaks volumes about you,” she said.

Cindy’s book was inspired by all young skaters, as she was once in their shoes.

“To watch skateboarding now and see how many girls are out there, the public needs to know about them,” she said.

Shirley Babashoff

An eight-time Olympic-medal winning swimmer, Shirley Babashoff won two gold and six silver. She broke and held world records throughout her career and is now the coauthor of “Making Waves: My Journey to Winning Olympic Gold and Defeating the East German Doping Program.” Shirley has always been competitive, and faced tough challenges against controversial German swimmers in the Olympics.

Samantha Peszek

2008 Silver-medalist and three-time NCAA champion gymnast Samantha Peszek spoke about her journey to becoming an Olympian.

“I knew in my heart that it was my destiny to go to the Olympics, it’s all I wanted to do in my life. I refocused my training and got pretty serious at a young age, started putting extra work in and really doing whatever I thought an Olympian would do,” she said.