Courtney Pansza

I haven’t had the words for how life has hit me, and quite frankly changed my life. And I really wasn’t ready to talk about it until right now. Last week, I lost not only my teammate, but my best friend. Let me tell you. She wasn’t just any ordinary friend. She was someone very special. To not just me but anyone who knew her.

Story Time. I was recruited to SCAD my senior year of high school. I got on the phone with the head coach who wouldn’t stop bragging about Jessy Scarpone (who was graduating) convincing me my running career could be similar to hers. Our training plans matched up. We both thrived on the added distance. Little did we know, she would soon be my training partner. After my third year at SCAD, Coach said he “has a special surprise for us” Jessy still had eligibility for one more season. After just a few meets during Cross season Jessy Scarpone, Tess St John, Diana Gorin and I became really close of friends. Later after we made it to Nationals, (We wouldn’t have done it without Jessy) we had another surprise; that Jessy had Track season as well. As I trained for my first half marathon, Jessy was right by my side. She pushed me to do my longest long runs ever. She paced my first half marathon, after running a 10k already. (She ran like 25 miles total that day 😂) she was so encouraging when I wanted to give up, yet still so sweet. We trained more for my second half. (Which she ended up pacing me for that one as well before rushing to work)

A memory I’ll have forever is my first 17 miles on the Tybee beach with her. It was one of my happiest, freest moments. It was early right at sunrise. We took our shoes off at about 12 miles. We ran along the edge of the water and under the pier. We both felt great and she was so so fast that her last few miles she was kicking it at under 7 minute pace. I told her to go because she was hanging with me the entire long run, because she was so selfless she wouldn’t leave me behind. And we ran under the pier and some guy yelled at me from above to go catch her and I told her after: “He must not know you are Jessy Scarpone Obviously!” After the run we decided to stay on the beach and relax but it was pretty chilly and we were wet from running along the water. She gave me her tank she was wearing because she claimed she wasn’t cold. (Which I still have) We ended up leaving the beach and going to get breakfast at a coffee shop Fox and Fig, where we would enjoy many more post long run meals and my last meal with her.

It’s really been a hard couple of weeks. We talked days before about her coming back to Savannah and making plans. But through this heartache I have learned so much from her. To never take anyone or anything for granted. Life is so special and so short and we forget sometimes. Jessy did not take her life nor was it expected. And it could have been anyone. Someone so healthy and so young. So special. So unique. It feels unfair. Unreal. But I feel so grateful to have had such a great friend. And that is why it is important to treat people kindly. Text people back. Call. Because I miss her so dearly but the memories I can cherish. ❤️ Love you “Jessy Scarponey with the high Pony”

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