Student-Athlete Spotlight: Arlene Diaz Leal

Student-Athlete Spotlight: Arlene Diaz Leal

This week, we shine the light on Arlene Diaz Leal, an extraordinary athlete, hardworking student and most of all, an all-around amazing person. Arlene was born in Salinas, California but she was raised for 6 years in Tonluca Rayon, Mexico. In Salinas, she attended Everett Alvarez High School and graduated in 2006. There she ran for three years. She has always loved running, “It takes me into another place; running is the one place where all I have to do is focus on the finish line.” Arlene runs for Hartnell’s Women’s Cross Country team, where she leaves competitors in the dust. Arlene has a special story - one she was kindly willing to share; her senior year of high school she became pregnant. With a new life on the way, she stopped running for some time and picked up job after job to support herself and her son Manuel. Arlene shared how tough it was for her, reminiscing back on that time, you could see the emotion in her eyes. This is someone who experienced a lot but she continued to keep her sight on the finish line. Through motivation by her son Miguel and her old running coach in Mexico, Arlene decided to get back to what brought her happiness, running. After some time of hard work and practice, she was running at a consistent basis and soon decided to return to school. She enrolled at Hartnell College. “I was motivated to be a better student,” said Arlene, who currently is a business administration major, which she hopes will lead to employment with a major company. As a mother, athlete, and student, her schedule is packed. She finds great support within her family – that includes Head Cross Country Coach, Chris Zepeda. “He includes my son in everything I do; he gives everyone a platform and to me he is a local hero,” she exclaimed. Her family is full of wisdom; she mentioned that her grandmothers have always been strong women, who never complained and always strived for more. Her parents have been supportive through it all and now, more than ever. One of the wise sayings that have stuck to her is ‘Frogs don't know how to go backwards,’ which resonates with Arlene. Throughout her journey, she has matured; she nurtures and shares wisdom with her teammates, pushing them to have a mentality that anything is possible. It is beautiful to see everything she puts into the things she loves and we wish her and the team a wonderful campaign. Go Panthers!!