Catherine Channell was sitting next to her father, Charles, when it came time for Peninsula High to announce its 2019-20 male and female Athletes of the Year.

Then annual banquet sponsored by Peninsula Athletic Booster Club, cancelled due to the growing coronavirus pandemic, instead used the online conferencing platform Zoom to announce its winners.

After hearing athletic director Wendell Yoshida announce Jack Haworth as Male Athlete of the Year, Channell was stunned when she heard her name.

"When they announced Jack's name, I feel like he kind of had a heads up and knew what to expect," Channell said. "For me, it came out of nowhere. It was unexpected. I had to ask (Yoshida) to repeat himself."

Channell said the format of Zoom can be a bit weird, especially without a strong internet connection.

Once Yoshida repeated himself, Channell knew her father shared the same expression.

"We were both shocked, and thought 'what did he just say? whose name did he call?'," Channell said. "I felt like it couldn't be me, but I was very happy about it."

Channell was a two-sport athlete through her four years at Peninsula as a member of the girls soccer and lacrosse teams.

While it was her parents nudging her into soccer when she was 6, it was her friend Aubrey Fixen, who encouraged her to play lacrosse during their 7th grade year.

It was how Fixen got her into lacrosse that she won't soon forget.

"Aubrey played goalie, and she decided that she didn't want to play goalie the entire game, so she dragged me into playing goalie for half the game, just so she didn't have to," Channell said.

"I played horrible that first year, but (Fixen's) generosity and time spent, despite a little self-interest, along with investing her time and expertise in helping me learn my skills (were huge). I've stuck with it for the last six years."

Channell was one of three seniors on this years Panther lacrosse team, and with it being the first year lacrosse was a CIF-sanctioned sport, she hoped Peninsula would make a strong run at a playoff spot.

"I was a captain this year, and I was looking forward to a strong finish (of my high school career)," Channell said. "We had the potential to go a little further. But coronavirus postponed that, and it's not possible for me to be a part of anymore."

Her lacrosse coach at Peninsula, Paula Borstel, said Channell had a team-first mentality from the minute she stepped onto the field.

"Catherine was always positive and supportive of her teammates, is very dedicated to lacrosse and always pushes herself to be better," Borstel said. "No matter how far behind or ahead, she always pushed herself and by extension, others, to do their best and to give 100 percent on the field."

Borstel said one instance during Channell's junior year stood out.

"We needed a goalie after our starter suffered a concussion, and Catherine stepped in," Borstel said. "She hadn't played goalie in over three years, and with only a few days practice, she led our team to the semifinals. That's dedication and leadership."

The hardest part of being a two-sport athlete for four years, Channell said, was keeping up with everything.

Named Peninsula's 2020 Valedictorian, Channell began taking honors classes as a freshman, and continued with two advanced placement (AP) classes in both her sophomore and junior years. Her senior year, she took three AP classes and carried a weighted 4.87 GPA. Channell was also a member of the Spanish, Math, Science and National Honors Societies.

"I was very invested in my studies, and the amount of time I had to dedicate, and just getting into college and keeping my grades up should have been the real challenge," Channell said. "Everyone, to some degree, has to deal with it."

As if that wasn't enough, she's been helping her father restore a 1966 Ford Mustang.

"It's another thing I've had to commit time to," she said.

Now, Channell has her sights set on Loyola Marymount, where she received a full academic scholarship, with a plan on majoring in biology.

"They have a really great program at LMU, and they've consistently gotten people into medical school," Channell said. "But the atmosphere there, it's the same atmosphere I've seen in team sports. They'll help you, and they want to help you get things done. I've enjoyed that for the years I've played sports, and even if I wasn't playing, I wanted to find it in my next school."

Even though her time on campus at Peninsula, like the rest of the senior class, ended suddenly, she said she was lucky to have spent the last four years there.

"Peninsula is something different, and everyone is really driven. The desire to succeed in everything is overwhelming," Channell said. "As stressful as it was, it's an environment that benefited me, and drove me to pursue what I wanted to the fullest."

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