Benjamin Franklin said, “Lost time is never found again.” Megan Lupton, a senior at Vandalia Community Unit High School seems to share this belief. So much so that, even during summer break, she gets up early. “During summer break, I don’t like to sleep in because I feel like I’m wasting the daylight that’s outside that I could be outside enjoying. So I don’t like to get up after nine o’clock,” she shared.
Being active outdoors is something that comes naturally to Megan. She’s been playing softball since she was eight-years-old, first playing for the Family YMCA of Fayette County. “And then I started playing for … rec team leagues in town. And then when I was 14, I think I tried out for my first travel softball team, and I liked it,” she recalled. Megan is the older of two children at home, having a younger sister named Madison who also plays softball. As tends to happen with most siblings, there’s a bit of a competitive nature there, but Megan said of her sister, “She’s a good pitcher, I’ll give her that.”
After graduation, Megan will be attending Principia College in Elsah, Illinois where she will play softball while studying math. “I’m probably going to become a teacher. That’s what I’m leaning towards right now,” she said. Math has always come easy to Megan, who is currently in Calculus. If she had to pick a favorite teacher, she said, “I really like Mr. L. I don’t have him for a class this year, but I had him for two classes last year,” she said. Part of what makes him a compelling teacher was, she said, “He’s just fun to be around. You can talk about so many things with him, and he knows about, like, everything,” she said with amazement.
Megan currently plays for a travel softball team out of Champaign, and she’ll be playing her last season when high school ball wraps up. “I’m excited to play one last time, but it’s also kind of sad knowing that after I play this summer, the next time I play will be in college,” she said. Megan plays at shortstop, third base, and second base, depending on the specific needs of the team at the time.
Sports have always been a good metaphor for life and its ups-and-downs. Learning to play as a member of a team, and to look out for your teammates is a skill that will constantly be utilized in day-to-day life. Additionally, learning to take failures and successes in stride is one essential skill learned in playing sports, and the one that Megan is most thankful for having experienced throughout her life to this point. “Knowing that just because you mess up … once at something, you’ll get another chance, and that you shouldn’t beat yourself up for it,” she said. Megan later added a good piece of advice is to, “Learn from your mistakes, and don’t let them dictate what you do. Learn from them. … Do what makes you happy.”
As a native of Vandalia, Megan also highly values her community and the sense of care you feel from community members here. “Everybody knows everybody. So, I feel like, … when we’re not ourselves, 100%, you can go find anyone to talk to,” she said. That level of care and support she has grown up with is part of what makes her want to live in a small town in the future as well. “I definitely want to stay in a small town. I mean, growing up in one, I don’t really know that I’d like it in a bigger city. I think I’d like to just stay in a small town kind of like this,” she said.
There are small towns dotting the map and, collectively, they are the beating heart of the country. Some of the best things in life can be found in the fly-over states, and oftentimes the best and most courteous people. Vandalia is one of those small-town communities, and having the benefit of growing up and learning here has had a profound impact on Megan. When we leave home in pursuit of our dreams, we always carry home with us wherever we go. Home isn’t always just a spot on the map, it’s a place in your heart – where it can be tucked away safely and always remembered.