Jillian Polk can usually be found in one of two places: kicking up grass as she sprints down the soccer field or serenading with a microphone. Although the activities are polar opposites, both usually result in cheering, clapping and hugs.
“I’ve just always liked to be in front of people and perform for them,” Jillian says. “I love singing, shopping, painting nails and makeup, but I’m not afraid to run and sweat. I’m not all girlie, but I’m not super tomboy, either.”
Last week, the eighth-grader recorded her first CD at Howling Dog Studio, in Palmetto — the prize for winning first place for vocals in a talent contest held last March, on Anna Maria Island. Favoring songs with a deep meaning, she chose to record “Broken Wing” by Martina McBride, “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts and “Alone” by Heart. It was the first time she’d set foot inside a recording studio.
“I didn’t have the volume right and had to mess around with the headphones,” she says. “I struggled so much with ‘Alone.’ It was too loud in my ears and I wasn’t prepared for it, but at the end of the day I didn’t want to go to bed because I didn’t want this really nice day to end. Recording was a great experience and hopefully something I’ll be able to use in the future.”
Jillian’s moves on the field are every bit as captivating as her vocals.
“One of the biggest parts of being an athlete is staying in shape and eating healthy,” she says. “You have to have the passion and want to keep getting better and going to practice, then getting on the field and doing your best.”
The St. Martha Knights team took second place this year, winning every game but two.
“Before every game, our whole team does a chant,” Jillian says. “We try to yell louder than the other team and do it with our arms around each other in a huddle and jump up and down when we say it. It really pumps us up!”
The eighth-grader plans to play all school sports this year — basketball, soccer and volleyball.
“I love the cheers that come from the sidelines,” she says. “My favorite thing is getting to know all the other girls from the other schools. It’s important socially and helps make a lot of friends, and when you become friends, it’s easier to play and to win. We play hard.”
FAVORITE SCHOOL MEMORY
"My favorite school memory is from first grade, when I sang my first solo (‘Amazing Grace’) at school Mass. The chorus was rehearsing and the music teacher said, ‘Who has that beautiful voice?’ The teacher then asked me to sing the song solo at Mass."