The context is a team workout, and Boisvert (pronounced bo-VAIR), who finished 16th in the state CIF meet as a junior last year, is not only like the assistant coach in the pack, but also a combination Energizer bunny/pace rabbit who helps push her teammates to better and better times.
“I definitely like to have fun with the girls,” says the effervescent distance runner. “We do a puffy paint party every year. The whole team gets together at one of the girls’ houses. We paint T-shirts.
“We had a karaoke party at my house last week. It was really an ice cream party. We sang Pink and other fun music we can all sing to. We did some old middle school music, too.” (She attended Standley Middle School, next to the park where the team works out, in the years 2011 to 2014.)
She concludes from this: “I think that’s why we’re so close. We do a lot of team-building.”
The star runner doesn’t isolate from the others, or lord it over them like other strong performers might. Her teammate, Isabelle Shepherd, is no slouch, either. In track in the strong Western League last spring, Shepherd and Boisvert finished 1-2 in the 1600 meters, which McCarthy, a veteran coach of 22 seasons at UC High, still calls “the mile.” Then Elise won the 3200 meters (“two miles” in McCarthy’s lingo).
Making up the rest of the “core” five of the Centurions for the fall, with Boisvert, 17, and Shepherd, 16, a junior, are Renee Torre, a returning senior, Kendall Quesenberry, also a senior, and Ella Russ, a junior.
“I think on paper this could be the best team we’ve ever had,” says McCarthy, who plans to take the team to Italy, a destination with a culture that is like a second home to him, next summer. “But they have to perform at a particular time.” The Centurion girls finished 11th at state last year. This is high praise, but also a seasoned assessment, from a veteran coach who has taken UCHS teams to fourth-place finishes (twice) and fifth place (twice), with a total of half a dozen teams in the top ten in the state meet.
The rest of the stable is full: Boisvert, Shepherd, and gang have a “pretty good core” of 11th-graders running alongside them in workouts, including Madison Boland, Max Garcia, Tori Michaelian, Katelyn Ormsby, Kyle Nguyen, Tara Smith, and Izzy DeMarco.
Boisvert, whose family name means “Green Forest” in French,how apropos for an athlete who loves the high spirits she experiences on a long run in nature; You just put yourself in a different place,” she says, began dance as a young girl and did ballet, hip hop, and alternative for nine years.
But she gave it all up. Let her tell the story: “In ninth grade, on the second day of school I ran. I thought it was easy. The coach (McCarthy) thought I had potential. He put me with the varsity.”
She loved running from that first day, something clicked, and “I gave it (dance) up when I took up running.”
Her mother Ann, who is an elementary school teacher, ran in high school and played club soccer at Oklahoma State, where she is considering going, should the school’s running coach extend a scholarship offer. Her father is Mike, who is self-employed who went to the nationals in Ultimate Frisbee seven times, while brother Gavin enters UCHS as a ninth-grader.
To pursue the activity she enjoys and excels at, she has had to make choices over the past four years. “I have friends who go out,” she relates. “I choose not to. I still hang out with my friends. I still eat right.
“You always have that (making the right choices) in the back of your mind. You want to do the right thing. That’s who I am.”
She says, “I’m into eating well, sleeping well. It’s what you do when you’re not running (that is the key). It shows in the races.”
While hardly being a stick-in-the-mud, she says she’s probably the personality on the cross country team who is “a little crazy.” “I get a little hyper,” she says, seated at a picnic table on the edge of Standley Park after a team run. McCarthy is moving about elsewhere in the park. Her frequent laugh and smile reveal braces that just seem to add more to her personality. “I definitely like to have fun with the girls. We’re goofy on the team.”
But she’s also the motor that switches up a gear when her coach says “move”. Her current push is “eating right.” An inspiration and role model is Shalane Flanagan, a four-time Olympic distance runner. “So I’ve been cooking some of her recipes, organic, high-protein, fats, natural foods. She’s not a fan of a low-carb diet. We distance runners don’t have to worry about carbs.”
Rating high on the social meter, Boisvert reports, “We have a group chat among runners in the San Diego Section. We’ll go on a group run. On Instagram I post pictures of food. I’m sure there are people who are tired of looking at my food!” she laughs.
Boisvert, whose personal record for her junior year of cross country was 18:45 over a three-plus-mile course, down from 19:57 her freshman year, 19:09 her sophomore year, credits her teammates for their hard work. “All the younger ones put in as much work as the older ones,” she says. “We go on family runs. We’ve created the family atmosphere. The older girls on the team are good about bringing in the younger ones.”
The senior is pondering a college major in biology or engineering, with medical school possible after her undergraduate years.
Also, the runner appreciates what she has in her long-time, veteran coach: “It helps having a coach who is so enthusiastic. He ran at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.”
“Her parents are awesome,” says McCarthy. “All the parents are awesome. They’re not pushy at all. They’re all super supportive.”