“I have learned that even if you try your hardest and still fail at something, to not give up. Keep trying,” said New Canaan Country School ninth grader Payton Koch of New Canaan during remarks she made at the end-of-term Upper School sports assembly, held on campus Feb. 24.
Payton, who served as a captain of the Country School girls’ varsity soccer and basketball teams, was one of two student-athletes selected to offer reflections.
“Since arriving at NCCS in the fifth grade, I have tried soccer, basketball, volleyball, fitness, softball and cross-country,” said Payton. “I have experienced the thrill of an undefeated season, but I have also had a season that had only three returning players. We had to completely rebuild that team.”
“It didn’t matter if we were winning or rebuilding, I have learned that the best thing I could do to serve my team was to stay calm emotionally, focus on improvement and just execute to the best of my ability and help my teammates to do the same,” said Payton.
“Payton is a natural leader and her dedication to improvement inspires all of those around her,” said Country School Physical Education Coordinator and Head Basketball Coach Chantal Angelis who has coached Payton off and on since 2015. “This is particularly true in practice, when we have to get out of our comfort zones, learn from mistakes, and work to improve our individual and team skills. She sets the tone with her work ethic, competitive spirit and desire to improve.”
Coach Angelis is also impressed with Payton’s understanding of what else it takes to be a successful athlete. “She possesses all the little things that you can’t teach an athlete. She’s competitive, driven, disciplined and committed. And above all, she is a really great teammate, always so positive, encouraging, and uplifting.”
“While the larger goal is always to outscore the opponent, Payton intuitively understands that wins are made up of a string of smaller accomplishments,” continued Coach Angelis. “She was our top scorer with 62 points, but it is noteworthy that she also led in rebounds and was one of the top steal-earners.”
During the spring athletic trimester and in her free time during the year, Payton, a daughter of Sarah and Dave Koch, practices and competes in dance. She particularly enjoys hip-hop, but also participates in jazz, lyrical and tap. She plans to attend New Canaan High School in the fall, where she intends to try out for the basketball team.
“Payton has a strong future ahead of her,” predicts Coach Angelis. “She brings a terrific balance to everything she does. She is a very dedicated, hard worker, but she also understands that this is supposed to be fun, and is able to set the tone for the rest of the team.”