Editor's Note: An expanded version of this article appears in the May 25 Crestview News Bulletin.
BAKER — Excitement surrounded Baker School on Wednesday with the arrival of best-selling author Sharon Robinson, daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson.
Robinson visited the school to meet Olivia Hurley, who won first place in Major League Baseball and Scholastic’s national Breaking Barriers essay contest.
See top-left "Related Articles" link for a copy of Olivia Hurley's prize-winning essay.
The Breaking Barriers contest required students to write about overcoming physical or emotional barriers, muck like famed baseball player Jackie Robinson had. Jackie Robinson broke the racial barrier in professional baseball when he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
Olivia wrote about taking control of her unhealthy lifestyle and repairing her self-image. Her essay was one of ten submissions recognized among 18,700 entered from across the country.
“It's a great essay; she is a good writer," Robinson said. "You’re not surprised, when you meet her, that she has got spirit ... it comes through so beautifully in that essay.”
Robinson met Olivia, along with classmates in Kim Fountain's sixth-grade class, in the school's media center. Each student received a T-shirt and a signed copy of Sharon Robinson's book "Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson.”
Friends and family surrounded Olivia as she met Robinson, who stayed for a pep rally in the school gymnasium.
"We all have obstacles," Robinson said. "It’s not about how big the obstacle is, it’s about working the process through."
Olivia overcame her obstacle by eating nutritious food and participating in several 5K runs. She is the lone sixth-grader on the school's varsity track team.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.