TEWKSBURY – Five years ago, Maria Da Silva moved to the United States from Brazil and she couldn’t speak English at all.
Today, he is in Honorary English class at Tewksbury Memorial High School.
Three years ago when he moved to Tewksbury after spending his first two years at Westboro, he never heard of ‘track-and-field’.
Today, Da Silva is one of the captains of an indoor track team set to have his season a week starting Saturday in the new ‘Fall-2’, where the Redmen will compete outdoors.
“I am very happy to come here. I had to learn English from scratch. I don’t even know the (word) ‘hi’. I went to Westboro first and spent two years there and then I came here my second year and I had no friends. I had a class with Makayla Paige in it and she was my first friend here at Tewksbury. He asked me if I wanted to join the track team and I said ‘what track is that? He said ‘well we run’ and I said ‘run? is that fun? I started it and really liked it. I keep telling everyone you have to try it because if you don’t try you’ll never know. “
Da Silva grew up outside Iguaza Falls in Brazil. He is one of four children. Her parents separated when she was two years old and later divorced. His mother then met his finally stepfather Maria, who is from the United States and decided to move here. Maria and one of her brothers, the oldest, Gabriel joined their mother. Two other brothers Felipe and Luiz lived in Brazil to live with their father.
“I’ll be visiting them in a year and they’ve told me they want to compete with me,” he said with a laugh. “It’s quite difficult (not with them). Even though we weren’t close (in terms of distance), I still miss them being in another country. I call or text them and tell them things that are happening here and they tell me they are proud of me. “
It should be. He was an outstanding student and was accepted into UMass-Lowell. She had hopes of becoming a doctor, maybe a pediatrician. Apart from doing well in class, she has also helped the Guidance Department welcome new students and those not yet proficient in English, which she has done.
“I am very happy that I am here. I met new people, I learned a new language, so now I can speak Spanish, Portuguese and English, ”he said, before being asked about the differences between the two countries. “In terms of education, there are many differences. We don’t have tracks in middle school. In Brazil, junior high school and high school are the same. It’s the same building, only a different class. With sports, of course there’s football, but also ping-pong and volleyball. “
While she was in Brazil, Maria said she had absolutely no qualms about competing with her brothers, even if she knew the outcome.
“Oh, it’s quite difficult for me to compete with them,” he said with a laugh. “They are all men so I have to try to keep up with them. My oldest brother (Gabriel) is here so we run together sometimes. He always beat me even though he didn’t even exercise. I am very upset about that. He always said ‘well you train, so you have to be faster than me’ and I would say ‘no because you are a boy’. He’s always been proud of me. He comes to my races when he can. I was a student (Tewksbury High) this month in December so he got (City Bearer) and put it in his house and everything. “
In a moment, Gabriel will post his achievements on the refrigerator as well. Although still quite experienced in sports, Maria is a formidable competitor. Even assistant coach Jill Paige said that he wanted to bring Maria to the national team if it wasn’t canceled.
“What’s impressive about Maria is that she’s still relatively new to the sport,” said Tewksbury girls’ indoor and outdoor track coach Fran Cusick. “It’s not like he’s been doing this since he was ten years old. He started the winter trail during his second year, and then he quit for a season because of COVID-19, so he didn’t have much experience. For a child to come and be a good leader is impressive. “
Soon after becoming friends with Makayla Paige, Maria is introduced to the rest of the track and cross-country team, and quickly has more friends than she can count.
“Maria is just a phenomenal child. He’s a great leader, his presence is amazing here, he’s friends with everyone and he’s a wonderful kid, “said Cusick.” It’s great to see him out for the team. At first he really didn’t know what he was doing and now he is. pretty much teaching everyone what to do. “
Last year during the indoor track season, Da Silva was a sprinter, mostly doing the 55 meter run, the 300 run and was also part of the 4×400 relay team which during the regular season came with a big win in the team, ‘s met against Billerica, before finishing to -15 in Class C East Mass Meet Championship. He also has a time of 48.19 in the 300-meter.
“I feel that I improved a lot last year. It’s sad that we can’t run indoors anymore, but I’m still positive about it. “I had last year’s (personal record) indoors and I want to get (personal record) again this year, but outdoors,” he said.
He was with Isabelle Carleton, Olivia Millspaugh and Emma Jensen when the group competing in the states met, and it was then that Da Silva realized he was making significant progress in his early track career.
“I had a lot of anxiety because it was like ‘oh I’m running with big girls now’. We weren’t last so that was good, but we all had fun. Before every race, we all get together and say ‘don’t kill yourself, but do your best. If you don’t pass a girl, that’s okay. We can run together and that’s the most important thing, “he said.
It has been about 13 months since Da Silva competed in the running race. He was part of the cross-country team during the fall, but that wasn’t really his cup of tea as he was more of a sprinter than a long-distance runner.
After that season was over, he made sure that he was in good shape. He joined several other athletes in high school for some informal training. He says having members of the men’s team there to compete, as well as some guidance from Coach Paige on his posture, has helped drastically.
“Kneel down for sure,” he replied as to what changes he needed to make to his posture. “I had a quad muscle injury last year so actually my posture is really bad. I feel like with Coach Paige, he helped a lot of people and helped me with my standing position. The training we did was really good, just for our posture and speed. “
While the season “indoors” was cut short by only a few encounters, Da Silva said he has set some goals for himself which he thinks are achievable despite not being a competitive run for 13 months.
“I’m expecting (a personal record). I think I can do it and I think my performance is much better this year, “he said. “I also have a lot of great people who run with me and train with me every day so they all push me. I want to finish around 46 (seconds) at 300 and (later on outdoor tracks) at 200 around 29 (seconds). “
That would definitely be a thing, considering that when he arrived at Tewksbury High, he’d never even heard of the “track.”