Almanac

Community - August 3, 2011

People: Katie's trifecta -- teaching, triathlon, theater

by Alison Myoraku

For an average person, any one of these activities would be a challenge: teaching a third-grade class through Teach for America, training for the Ironman Triathlon, landing a major role in a musical. But for Menlo Park resident Kate Blodgett, 24, any one of those isn't quite enough. She juggles all three.

Growing up in the area, Ms. Blodgett attended San Mateo High School, where she witnessed the effects of the tracking system, with AP/honors courses and more "mainstream" classes creating an education gap between students.

During her time at the University of Arizona, where she received bachelor's degrees in musical theater and business, she heard about the organization Teach for America, a nonprofit that encourages promising graduates to teach in low-income communities. For the past two years, she has taught third-graders in East Palo Alto.

Calling it "one of the most life-changing experiences for me," she says she is sure "it will affect the way I view education from now on."

Ms. Blodgett's training for the Ironman Triathlon stems from another personal experience.

"My mother was diagnosed with cancer when I was in college," she says, "so I wanted to be supportive and at least raise awareness of the situation."

She joined the Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and participated in an event in Arizona. Now, in 2011, she maintains her connection to the group and is training for the Ironman Triathlon, to be held Aug. 28 in Louisville, Kentucky. For this event, she has raised $7,922, and counting.

"It has been intense, and really crazy," she says of the training experience. "We train six days a week, anywhere from two to nine hours a day."

Although the training can take a physical toll, what with running, biking, and swimming, she describes the process as a "mental challenge, where the mind has to push the limits of the body."

Still, Ms. Blodgett pushes herself farther with her lifetime involvement in theater, and her current show, the musical comedy whodunit "Curtains," playing at Foothill College through Aug. 14

When she was growing up, she says, "everybody in my family was involved in the arts in some way. I just thought that singing, and dancing, and performing was the norm."

She started in theater at age 7, and went on to perform at Broadway by the Bay, with her debut in the romantic musical, "Meet Me in St. Louis." Her twin sister, with whom she shared many artistic experiences, is now a professional ballet dancer.

Ms. Blodgett welcomes the challenge of stepping into character as Niki Harris, the murder suspect in "Curtains." She normally takes the roles of "outlandish, crazy characters," she says, and she finds Niki Harris to be the most like herself.

"Theater has been the most formative experience," says Ms. Blodgett, when asked which activity has been most rewarding. When she was in high school, theater "taught me inner personal skills and time management abilities. When I got out of school at 3 p.m., then went to dance practice until 6 p.m., and then had rehearsals from 7 to 10 p.m., if I didn't manage it right, I couldn't do it all."

Although participating in all of these events can be draining, Ms. Blodgett describes herself as "someone who doesn't shy away from challenging things."

Visit foothillmusicals.com for more information on "Curtains" and tickets ($13-$26). The play runs through Aug. 14 at Foothill College.

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