Extraordinary Teen Awards 2022
Life during Covid didn’t stop these graduates from achieving remarkable things. In some cases, it inspired them to reach even higher.
Bishop O’Connell High School
Toby Klein went pro before he was old enough to vote. His high school years at Bishop O’Connell were a blur of studying, training and traveling the globe for bike races, with little time for other activities. He wouldn’t have it any other way.
“There’s so much suffering and so much sacrifice involved in this sport, but so much joy and euphoria,” he says. “Cycling for me is a form of meditation. It’s a really good stress reliever and sort of my getaway.”
Klein started cycling at age 9, bonding with his dad, Marc, on bike trips. His first road race was the annual Armed Forces Cycling Classic in Arlington (he came in second place in the kids’ race for his age group).
By his freshman year in high school, he had a coach. He began competing at the elite level, racking up trophies in the USA Cycling Amateur Road National Championships and earning third place last summer in the Trophy of Flanders, an international race in Belgium.
In September 2021, he signed a pro contract with Aevolo, a professional cycling team based in Colorado Springs that provides a stipend and equipment and covers his travel expenses. He sandwiched the interview for this story between tours in France and New Mexico and has raced in Greece and Italy.
The rigorous schedule didn’t stop him from paying it forward. In high school, he helped promote the benefits of exercise through Project Echelon, a nonprofit that helps disabled veterans recover from PTSD and traumatic brain injury.
Now 18, Klein graduated with a 4.43 GPA and was accepted to William & Mary, but he’s planning to defer a few years to focus on cycling. Once his racing days are over, he intends to pursue a career in finance.
Tracey Leipold, director of counseling at Bishop O’Connell, was struck by the Arlington teen’s maturity. He met all of his academic obligations, kept up with assignments on the road and rarely asked for extensions, she says, while logging thousands of miles on two wheels.
“One of Toby’s great gifts is he’s a super humble guy,” she says. “He is really respectful and grateful for opportunities. He shows the other students what can be possible.”