The highest scorers or fastest runners of teams tend to get most of the sports headlines. Peel back the layers of any good team, though, and you’ll tend to find an unsung student-athlete who serves as the key cog in its success.
J.P. McCaskey High School senior Naomi-Jeanne Main fits the bill for the Red Tornado girls cross country squad.
“The thing about her is she’s a real spark plug for her team,” McCaskey coach Mike Craighead said. “She was our sixth runner at leagues. .... but she’s been the glue to the team this year.”
Naomi-Jeanne has done so by serving as an example in the classroom, where she has a 4.0 GPA, is on track to finish in the top-six of her graduating class and is a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist.
And she’s done so with the violin. Most recently, Naomi-Jeanne was one of a few violinists from across the state selected to the All National Honors Orchestra.
Earlier this year, she was named the overall grand champion of the Lancaster Women’s Symphony Orchestra Youth Instrumental competition, which netted her a $5,000 scholarship prize. Naomi-Jeanne, 17, also earned Pennsylvania Music Educators Association All-State honors last spring.
“She’s the equivalent of a state champion of cross country if you relate it to her violin and musical ability,” Craighead said.
Naomi-Jeanne plays the violin for the Temple Center for Gifted Young Musicians in Philadelphia and the Berks Sinfonietta in Berks County, and is part of an endowed quartet at the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia, and takes private lessons in Philadelphia.
All of this is done during a busy fall season that also includes schoolwork and cross country.
“I’ve learned a lot about time management,” Naomi-Jeanne said. “Also, I just make sure what I’m doing I really enjoy.”
“She picked a few things she was interested in and stuck with it,” Dr. Stacie Molnar-Main said of her eldest daughter.
Years ago, Molnar-Main purchased a pair of season tickets to watch the Lancaster Symphony Orchestra. One night, her husband was unavailable to attend, so she instead brought Naomi-Jeanne, who at the time was four years old.
“I thought she’d be so bored we’d leave at intermission,” Molnar-Main recalled. “She was enthralled. We stayed for the whole performance.”
Naomi-Jeanne immediately wanted to play the violin.
“We put that off until she was six years old,” Molnar-Main said. “She’s kept at it.”
Naomi-Jeanne, named after a pair of great-grandmothers in the family, attended the private New School Montessori in Lancaster through eighth grade. The school’s lone sport it offers middle school students is cross country, which is where Naomi-Jeanne was first introduced to running.
Currently one of three former New School students who run cross country at McCaskey, Naomi-Jeanne made an immediate impression on Craighead when she was a freshman a few years ago.
“We were over at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology doing hill repeats on some steep hills,” Craighead said. “ A lot of other runners were complaining. She was like, ‘Hey, you can do this.’ She’s always been that positive runner in the program. It’s like having another coach within your staff.”
Naomi-Jeanne is now a team captain for a McCaskey squad aiming to do big things at the District 3-3A championship at Big Spring on Oct. 30.
She is rather humble when it comes to speaking about her accomplishments, a trait that comes into play when asked for a list of colleges to which she is applying.
She instead opted to describe them as the top 10 music schools in the country.
“I don’t want to jinx anything,” Naomi-Jeanne said.
Asked if there’s any correlation between violin and running, she said, “Running is very meditative. Like the violin, running is something if you put a lot of time into it you can see results.”