Vail Daily column: Teen leader is a positive role model for peers |

Vail Daily column: Teen leader is a positive role model for peers

Michelle Stecher
Youth Leader Spotlight
Gretchen Pavelich

Spunky. Lighthearted. Excited. These characteristics illustrate Gretchen Pavelich, recent eighth-grade graduate of St. Clare of Assisi.

With an impressive schedule filled with numerous athletic and academic pursuits, Pavelich exemplifies the character of many traditional leaders through nontraditional avenues. Gretchen follows her passions and paves the way for others to break molds and pursue what makes them happy.

In sixth grade, Gretchen decided to take her love for the game of football to the next level by joining her school’s football team. By her second year on the team, there were four other girls playing in her league. Gretchen’s coaches didn’t know where to play her when she first tried out and found that her skill of containing opponents led her to excel as defensive end and blitzing linebacker.


“Having fun is a theme in my life, and I am dedicated to balancing the serious aspects with fun.”Gretchen Pavelich

Support Local Journalism

While Gretchen may be known as “the girl who plays football,” she can also be found ski racing for Ski Club Vail. Like many true locals, Gretchen started skiing at age 2 and took up racing six years ago. She is eager to take a road trip out to Oregon to train at Mount Bachelor this June with her teammates. In typical Gretchen fashion, why fly when the journey on the road is so much fun? Then it’s off to Lithuania to try her legs at indoor skiing.

Gretchen’s calendar often includes reading, watching “Star Wars” and playing video games. Her passion for hunting recently expanded to include archery as she added a bow to her quiver. Gretchen has been practicing with her new bow and plans to enjoy the upcoming hunting season with her newfound skill.

“It will be fun to be out during mating season, since bow season starts so early,” she said.

As Gretchen geared up for her continuation ceremony, she reflected on her past nine years at St. Clare.

“Color Bucks was one of the highlights,” she said.

The program offers rewards for students who have been kind to their classmates, putting others first. Gretchen, along with her peers, accumulated enough “bucks” for a monumental fun run, celebrating the spirit of giving back to others.


Gretchen is quick to describe strong leaders as those who inspire others to do greater good, and has looked up to her older brother for his persistence, and commitment to having fun. When it comes to her own leadership abilities, Gretchen is exceptionally humble, although others are quick to pick up on them who have experienced her compassionate nature coupled with expertise on the football field and ski slopes.

Kristi Grems, program director at Mind Springs Health, portrays Gretchen as “a positive role model to her peers and the younger students at St. Clare.”

Gretchen plans to attend Vail Christian High School and is debating between trying out for football or lacrosse.

“I also love the game of lacrosse, but it’s not enough of a contact sport for me,” she said.

Gretchen is most excited to meet new people, having been with the same classmates for nearly a decade. Upon graduation, Gretchen hopes to attend a good college out of state, and possibly ski in college.

“Having fun is a theme in my life, and I am dedicated to balancing the serious aspects with fun,” she said.

Michelle Stecher is the executive director at the Eagle River Youth Coalition, a local nonprofit organization that offers and supports collaborative prevention programs and services. ERYC tackles three main areas that affect the development of teens and adolescent youth, including substance abuse prevention, emotional wellness & mental health promotion and academic achievement. In addition to supporting the health and well-being of local young people, ERYC offers various levels of parenting education and trainings for community members. For more information, call 970-949-9250 or visit

Support Local Journalism