By Ben Robinson
COVINGTON — For most parents, cheering for their children in the athletic arena ends after high school graduation. But for John and Kim Shell of Covington, seeing their children compete beyond the high school level has become the norm.
That’s because their oldest daughter, Chloe Shell, just completed a phenomenal collegiate softball career at Bluffton University and now their youngest daughter, Carly Shell, will enjoy and opportunity to run at Ohio University.
Carly committed recently to run Cross Country and Track for the Bobcats.
“We’ve been very blessed,” said Carly’s father, John. “It’s so fun to see their careers extend past the high school level. We were Beaver fans for four years and now we’re Bobcat fans.”
It also means a lot of traveling, which the Shell family doesn’t mind.
“This will be a lot more traveling,” said Kim in regards to the difference between attending Chloe’s softball games a Bluffton and Carly’s running events at Ohio University. “But we wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re very proud of her and excited to follow her.”
Following in her older sister’s footsteps by competing at the collegiate level is something Carly is proud of, even though it’s in a different sport.
“It’s pretty cool that both of us went to college for sports,” she said. “Not too many (siblings) have that opportunity. I’m just glad I could live up to the success Chloe has had.”
And Carly hopes to have the same success running at Ohio University as her older sister did playing softball at Bluffton.
“I don’t tell her this, but I look up to her a lot,” Carly said of her older sister. “For her to do the things she was able to do in high school and then to do so well at Bluffton — and for her to go out to Missouri for more schooling and to be a coach — that shows she’s the strongest person I know.”
It’s all due to a work ethic and a commitment to be the best, traits Carly also possesses. In Cross Country, Carly owns both the school and Cross County Conference records. On the track, she owns the 1,600 and 3,200 meter records at Covington, as well as the 3,200 meter district record. She has finished 24th and 23rd at state in cross country and sixth in state in track.
“Carly owns the school record and has four of the top five times ever run at CHS,” said Covington cross country coach Josh Long. “She is the only girl in school history to named named All-Ohio twice. She’s had an amazing cross country career at CHS.”
And she accomplished those feats despite battling unfortunate injuries throughout her sophomore year.
“When you look at the adversity she’s faced to get to where she is, she’s a special kid,” said Covington track coach Dave Tobias. “She’s earned everything through hard work and perseverance and she has an opportunity to earn so much more. And, I believe she will because her work ethic is unbelievable.”
“With everything she’s had to overcome, Carly’s best racing days are definitely in her future,” he said. “She was able to be a standout runner on twenty-five miles per week in high school. When she begins to up her mileage in college, her times will drastically improve. It’s going to be fun following her over the next four years because OU is really getting a runner that hasn’t even tapped into her full potential.”
The decision to accept partial scholarships academically and athletically from Ohio University, with an opportunity to earn more financial help through performance, was something Shell couldn’t pass up — even with offers from other Division I programs on the table.
“I look at it as a challenge,” Carly said of an opportunity to earn more scholarship money. “It makes you work for it and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Her parents agreed.
“I think that’s what they need to do with all student athletes,” said John. “They give some of these kids full rides before they even step foot on campus and to me, where’s the incentive to work harder if it has already been handed to you. This is perfect for Carly because she is getting financial help, but she has to work and perform to receive more.”
Also tipping the scale for Ohio University over other colleges was the influence of another former Cross County Conference runner, one who Carly looks up too and whose league record Shell broke as a freshman.
“Juli Accurso had a lot on influence on me,” said Carly of the former Miami East standout and three-time collegiate All-American. “I stayed in touch with her and she helped me out a lot. She got me in touch with the coaches and told me so much about college life and her own experiences at OU. Hopefully I can have the same kind of success at OU that she had.”
Until then, Shell has one more season left on the track and hopes to make it a memorable one.
“I’m focused on keeping my grades up and improving my times,” said Carly, who currently holds a 3.675 GPA. “I’d like to go to state again. That would be a great way to finish up my high school career.”
Knowing he’ll have Carly Shell back on the track for one final season is something Dave Tobias will cherish.
“It gets pretty emotional seeing kids move on, so when I have to say goodbye to her after track, it’s going to be tough,” Tobias said. “She’s not only a good runner, she’s a great kid.”
Which is what Ohio University is getting when Carly Shell walks on campus next summer.