Behind the smile


Eileen Xayasane

As usual, Soph. Magaly Lemus is there to support her sister Briana Lemus.

Brooke Pedersen

   A 6’1” teddy bear. The biggest smile always on her face and always laughing or in a silly mood. A clumsy girl who has a heart bigger than her shoe size. This is what you might see when you look at sophomore Magaly Lemus. 

   Lemus made varsity as a sophomore for both of her sports. For volleyball, she was the only sophomore to make varsity and she made her mark by getting playing time. For basketball, she had numerous accomplishments. She started every game during the season and rarely came out. She led the OK Red Conference with over 200 rebounds on the season. 

   Despite only starting to play volleyball and basketball in 7th grade, she was very successful in all the sports she played. “Despite Magaly’s later start in the sport of volleyball, she has made remarkable strides with her skill development. She has help with her height and her natural athleticism, but it’s her work ethic, willingness to be coached and her infectious positive attitude that has put her on a fast track to being one to watch in her future in WOVB,” Coach Kaitlyn Lawton said. Some of her teammates had been playing sports for years and got extra practice playing club sports. Lemus started late, but her hard work made up for lost time and she was selected for Holland Sentinel First Team All Area as well as All-Conference Honorable mention for basketball this year.

   Lemus also thrives in school. While taking challenging AP classes as a sophomore, Lemus has kept her grades high despite having a busy schedule with sports and challenging family life.

   In addition to excelling in school and in athletics, she is a happy person. She constantly has the biggest smile on her face and will be making jokes. She doesn’t like to be serious and will always lift the mood, especially during stressful times. 

   During a home game in January, Coach Paul Chapman was talking to the team during a timeout. A teammate looked up at Lemus who had the biggest smile on her face and was trying to hold in her laugh. The teammate didn’t know what she was laughing at, but immediately the team’s frowns turned into smirks and the stressful timeout turned into a game of try not to laugh. 

   She is a pure joy to hang out with. “Mags is a sweetheart and she always finds a way to make me laugh. She’s also so effortlessly funny too that it just makes her so fun to spend time with. Getting to know mags has been some of the best moments of my year,” Jr. Chelsea Overbeek said. She loves to be friends with anyone and listen to what you have to say. Everyone needs a Magaly Lemus in their life.

   Through all the happiness Lemus expresses and shows, there is another life Lemus has to work and live through.

   Growing up, Lemus didn’t have a consistent father figure. “My father left when I was around six and went to Mexico. He is now in North Carolina and we have little to no communication,” Lemus said. Lemus was so young at the time and was still a kid herself, but her single mother needed extra help to raise her toddler sister. “Magaly took care of me when I was little and helped my mom a lot and taught me how to be a better person everyday. She also helped me with my sports and how to improve and she is just always there for me,” Briana Lemus said.

   Lemus had a man come into her life who at times acted as a father figure to her until he and her mom broke up leaving her mother single again and forcing Lemus to step into a parent-like figure for her sister. Lemus had to be independent from a young age and help around the house as much as she could while still maintaining sufficient grades and performing well in sports. 

   Not only did Lemus help raise her younger sister, but she had to make money to help support her family. She had to have a job where she would make an income to help her single mom and support her own needs. At times, Lemus would have to go from school to practice and then work at Kelly’s restaurant until late at night. She did all of these while maintaining good grades and performing well in her sports. “I think that some of my biggest challenges have come from my mindset. I tend to be too hard on myself on everything I do from sports to my grades to my mental health,” Lemus said. 

   Lemus’s busy schedule may seem impossible to other students who only go to school and then sit on their phones for hours. Other people also don’t have the same stress as Lemus to help provide for herself, her mother and younger sister. “There have been times when my mental health was doing really bad and I never really reached out to anyone,” Lemus said. She has limited time for herself and to be a kid which has put a toll on Lemus’s mental health. She has had to handle her issues on her own since her father left her and her mom at such a young age

   Luckily she has chosen to participate in sports which creates another family at school. “I think something that helps me be successful during hard times is having a good support group, such as friends. I always have someone I can go to when I’m having a hard time,” Lemus said. Lemus is an incredible person to be around which has allowed her to create so many friendships that sympathize with her struggles at home. Her friends were able to give her rides to practices to ensure she was included and able to participate in the sports she wanted to since her mother wasn’t always available to take her places.

   You may have been blinded by her big smile and the major successes of Magaly Lemus, but there is more to her story than what you may have seen.