Last fall, Fredonia's Michaela Tramuta wrapped up her high school cross country career with her fifth-straight trip to the New York State Public High School meet. Today, she will wrap up her high school career as she, along with her classmates will receive their diplomas.
"I'm going to miss competing a lot," Tramuta said. "It was my favorite part about the sport. Especially the big competition courses like McQuaid, in Rochester, Elma Meadows for Sectionals and Long Point for Counties. Preparing for meets was difficult, practices were long and exhausting at times, but I will always miss that feeling of adrenaline and satisfaction before and after competing."
Although she may not have been the most talented member of Fredonia's girls' cross country team, she was certainly one of its most productive members.
Submitted Photo, left
OBSERVER?File Photo, right
Pictured above, at left, is Fredonia’s Michaela Tramuta after she was awarded a Kenny Award for best actress in a leading role during a presentation at Shea’s Performing Arts Center, in Buffalo, in early May. At right is Tramuta competing during a cross country meet in the fall of 2013.
"I always gave everything I had for every practice and meet," Tramuta said. "I never settled for anything less than my best. I don't want to sound full of myself, but if you ask any of my teammates, family, friends or coaches, they will tell you that I consistently give 110 percent to whatever I do.
"It was hard for me to feel confident in the beginning of my running career because I knew I didn't have the typical running body - long legs and small hips - however, I didn't let that stop me," she continued. "I worked on getting my legs, arms and abs strong every day. My dad (Daniel Tramuta) would - and still does - take me to the gym at the college and we would work on aerobic and cardiovascular endurance every week. In addition, my coaches gave me workout ideas and countless advice."
Above all else, the league titles, running in invitational meets, league championship meets and Sectionals, Tramuta is most proud that she was able to compete at the state level as many times as she did.
"I told myself every day that I would make it to the state meet every year - whether it was with the team or not," she said. "That was my goal every summer and season. I never actually believed I could do it, since my body has changed over the past six years, but I still put forth my best effort. Somehow, it all worked out. Let me tell you, it was far from easy, but all the training was completely worth it."
With the season long over, and her high school days soon to be behind her, Tramuta knows there are things she's going to miss.
"Without any of them over the past six years, I'd be nowhere," Tramuta said of her teammates. "I would never have made it as far as I did every year. The advice from the previous seniors and alumni, their work ethic and dedication to the team and program, triggered my interest to go out for the sport. It also made me strive to become the best athlete I could be, not only for myself, but also the team.
"We're a family and look out for each other no matter what," she continued. "They're some of the smartest and most talented girls in the school and I'm proud to call them my best friends and basically sisters. They'll never know how much I will miss running with them every day."
Her coaches, Carol Zirkle and Mark Fitzgerald, were also influential during her years on the team.
"They've consistently been by my side through thick and thin," Tramuta said. "They've helped me reach my goals since day one. I've become a smarter runner because of their coaching. All of their workouts helped me improve my times each year on each course.
"I can speak for the team when I make that statement as well," she continued. "Despite the difficulty and intensity required of some workouts, everyone pushed through and improved tremendously. Without coach Fitzgerald's or coach Zirkle's love, support, advice and coaching, I would have never been the runner or person I am today. I will miss them, the jokes, pancake runs and everything so much."
But running cross country is not the only passion this soon-to-be college freshman has, as she has been involved in acting for the past 11 years.
"I cannot even begin to describe how many similarities there are," Tramuta said when asked if there were similarities between how she prepares for a meet and a performance. "Before every meet and performance, I have a routine and most importantly, nerves. But good ones. For example, before every race, three hours before, I would eat something, then listen to music while mentally preparing myself for the pain to come. About a half hour before the race, I would then proceed to do a 20-minute warm up run with drills and stretching.
"For performances," Tramuta continued. "I always eat a little something three hours before - that's not too filling - so it will digest and then I listen to some Broadway as 'pump up music.' I listen to music as I get my make up and costume on and then about a half hour before the show, concert or recital, I do vocal warm ups and have a mini dance party to help get my nerves under control and my blood flowing."
For all of her hard work on the stage, Tramuta was named the recipient of a 'Kenny Award' for best actress in a leading role.
"I remember hearing about the Kenny Awards when I was a sophomore in high school," Tramuta said of the awards that are presented by Shea's Performing Arts Center and the Lipke Foundation to high school performers in Western New York. "The cast was so excited to find out that our production of 'Bye, Bye Birdie' was accepted along with six other high school productions in Western New York. The judges came to our show on closing night and two weeks later, we attended a nomination ceremony where I was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role along with three actresses from the other shows. On May 12, each cast had the opportunity to perform on the Shea's stage for a packed house. Then the winners were announced and when my name was called, I was in shock. I felt like I couldn't breathe, but that moment proved to me that the theatre is my calling."
Next fall, Tramuta will take her talents to SUNY Fredonia, where she will major in musical theatre. It was on a stage at Fredonia State 11 years ago that Tramuta got her start.
"My first role was in an opera called Gianni Schicchi when I was seven years old," She said. "It was an Italian opera and I played a little boy named Gherardino. If I remember correctly, I don't believe I was very nervous, just anxious. I wanted to be on stage the entire show, even though I only had one little scene."
And she's just as anxious to start the next chapter of her life.
"I'm very excited to be moving on to college in the fall," Tramuta said. "Although I will be staying in the area, I will be living on campus and receiving a great education from a terrific school. I'm ready to focus on theatre and pursue it as a career. I've been waiting to start this new chapter for what seems like my whole life."
Just as her coaches and teammates influenced her on the cross country courses she ran, Tramuta has also had influences help her with her performances on the stage.
"There have been many influences, but I think the most important ones by far have been my family members, including my Uncle Greg (Barnard)," she said. "He took me to see my first Broadway show, 'Beauty and the Beast,' when I was six. From that day on, I knew show business was my passion. I idolized the performers on stage.
"In addition, my mother's (Laurie Tramuta) theatre students at the college have been extreme influences over the years as well," Tramuta continued. "I've continued to look up to them every day. Famous Broadway actresses like Sutton Foster, Audra McDonald, Idina Menzel, Kristen Chenoweth and Laura Osnes have influenced me to pursue theatre as well. They're my favorite stars in New York City. Everyone has told me that the stage is where I belong and I believe it is where I was meant to be."
As for cross country, it appears that Tramuta has run her last race as a member of a team.
"I've taken the idea of running in college into consideration," Tramuta said. "However, I don't believe I will have time with my major. Musical theatre is very demanding. I truly want to put forth all of my energy and focus into my studies. I will most certainly be running for exercise and to stay in shape throughout my four years in college. It's my favorite kind of exercise - besides dance - and I have to stay fit anyway. But I will continue to run charity runs and road races and hopefully a marathon in the near future."
Like many seniors, Tramuta has her school and major picked out. And she is ready to get to work. But unlike some of her peers, she is well aware of what she wants to do after the next chapter of her educational life comes to an end.
"I hope to graduate from college with a (bachelor's in fine arts) in musical theatre," Tramuta said. "Then, after that, I hope to receive summer stock opportunities from auditioning around the country and hopefully get a role in a national tour. My ultimate goal is to move to New York City and perform on a Broadway stage in a Broadway theatre. I have some work to do before I hopefully make it to the big leagues though."