Somehow, swimming turned North Forsyth senior Marcus Alvarez into a track star.
That was the biggest change for Alvarez going in to his sophomore season with the Raiders. As a freshman, he had run during track season, buoyed by times in sprinting events that were competitive with older, bigger runners, though not better, but the high school season was the extent of Alvarez’s commitment.
Then sophomore season, Alvarez joined North’s swim team. It made sense to him, even if he wonders why it doesn’t make sense to more runners. As a sprinter, he practiced in short bursts. The amount of time he spent in motion during a practice was minimal. But at swim practice, Alvarez was in constant motion going back and forth in the pool, logging miles and miles each week.
“All the miles you log, it translated to track season,” Alvarez said.
Indeed, Alvarez suddenly turned in to the premier 200- and 400-meter runner in the county, sweeping the events at the county and region championship meets and placing sixth in the 400 in Class 6A at the state meet.
Alvarez has been rising the ranks ever since. He placed fifth in Class 6A in the 400 last season, gaining interest from college programs like Kennesaw State. And if Alvarez makes it seem easy, that’s because, well, it kind of is.
He was always the fast one, beating classmates in races at recess growing up in Brooklyn, New York. He knew he should join the track team in middle school, and he excelled but didn’t make much of his success at the time.
“I just had fun with it,” Alvarez said.
After all, Alvarez had already done the hard part when his family moved from New York to Georgia when he was 11.
He’d grown up in Canarsie, a working- and middle-class neighborhood on the south side of Brooklyn. It wasn’t rough, Alvarez said, but it wasn’t what he knows now living in Forsyth County.
“It wasn’t like here in Forsyth County where you’ve got million dollar homes,” Alvarez said. “We lived in more of like a duplex apartment.”
Alvarez’s parents sought something more, particularly better schools, and they read something about Georgia and Forsyth County and took a leap.
But that leap meant big changes for Alvarez. He left friendships. He left a way of life, the frenetic pace of New York City for calmer pastures in the South.
“At first, it was rough,” Alvarez said.
Gradually, Alvarez said he found his way in Forsyth County. New friendships helped. So did track.
He’s now a top athlete in a Class 7A school, eyeing a top 3 finish at this season’s state meet and a future athletic career in college.
“I found a way to embrace it and almost make it my home,” Alvarez said. “… I think sports as well has helped me, going to track and finding my own niche. It’s something probably would’ve never happened if I never moved.”