Student Highlight: Marlene Bigsby

4 Polocrosse is an exciting game on horseback that combines polo with lacrosse. Two six-person teams compete head-to-head to score points by using their rackets to carry and throw a small rubber ball between the opposing team’s two goal posts.

But sometimes life feels a little too much like a big game of Polocrosse. You’re a ball trying to reach a goal, but you keep getting hit around, ping-ponged from here to there, all while trying to steer clear of trampling forces. Regardless of who you are, it’s likely safe to say that you’ve felt like this at some point in your life.

5For seventeen-year-old Denver Online High School Junior, Marlene Bigsby, a family divorce was like an umpire throwing in the starting ball, initiating another round of Polocrosse. Regardless of whether she was ready or not, the match had started: game on.

But through the unsettling excitement of the enormous change in her life, one thing carried her through: horses. “Horses were everything to me at the time. I was so stressed because I was in the middle of everything going on. That [horses] was the constant in my life. It was the only constant in my life.”

Bigsby says she was, “born into the farm,” her mother instilling in her a passion for horses. She kicked off her equine competition experience at the age of thirteen by participating in Pony Club. “Pony Club is a national club for English Riding, Eventing, and Dressage,” she said. She stated that Dressage is, “the basis of all horseback riding. It’s the key to every equestrian sport,” while Eventing is, “the combination of dressage, show jumping, and cross country.” She competed nationally three times, her team winning the national competition twice.

As she dove further into the equestrian sport, she started competing in Polocrosse. “I love just the adrenaline of Polocrosse,” she said. Through the American Polocrosse Association, Bigsby competed all over the world, including such places as Australia, New South Wales, and Kentucky. “It’s so fun playing on a team with people and traveling,” she commented. One of her favorite experiences was attending the World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park where her team led an exhibition for attendees on how Polocrosse was played. “The World Equestrian Games is huge. The top level of every equestrian sport goes to the World Equestrian Games. It was mind blowing,” she noted.

The gifted rider used the outlet of horses to get through a tough personal time. The family divorce not only pushed her to grow her talents in the equestrian world, but also, “The divorce forced me to grow up really fast,” she expressed.

1Noting this, she articulated how this translated into her academic life, saying, “I’ve always been a quiet and reserved person. I’ve always liked to do things more on my own.” Before moving to Denver, Bigsby attended a school where she was home schooled half-time while attending a brick-and-mortar school half-time. She said it was similar to online education, stating, “It kind of prepared me for online school. It was independent and online school is even more independent.”

Moving to Colorado mid-year, Bigsby looked into a few schools before finding Denver Online. She shadowed a public brick-and-mortar school but was overwhelmed by the quantity of students. She said, “I told my dad I wanted to do online school. I just really didn’t want to be thrown into school in the middle of my junior year.” The smaller school feel at Denver Online seemed to fit her nicely, planning to likely stay and take concurrent enrollment courses next semester or graduate early. She even recently started volunteering with Reading Partners, a program that was introduced to her during the Denver Online High School New Student Orientation. In Reading Partners, she tutors an elementary school student in reading up to twice a week.

2Working with kids is something she plans to do forever, intending on becoming a family attorney. She said, “My parents are divorced. It just interests me. I think going through a divorce impacts kids, and I want to help kids.” Acknowledging how highly she thinks of her family, she said, “I can’t imagine what going through a divorce would be like for kids who don’t have the best parents ever.”

Denver Online High School strives to be a safe spot for students who need a team to help carry them toward their goal. Because just like Polocrosse, life can be an exciting ride. We all may feel from time-to-time that we are like that rubber ball going anywhere but to the goal. But with a few direction changes en route, we can ultimately get to our target while living a captivating story along the way, an impactful adventure to tell that likely wouldn’t have happened without those surprising shifts in our path.

6So when those unexpected turns in life happen and the match begins, Denver Online High School will be ready and waiting to help students: game on.