A Champion’s Resolve

“Poetry is my love, my passion.”

An unexpected response, but Elijah Beverley ’21 explains how the art form has become a deep part of who he is — a remedy from the world and a gateway to self-exploration.

“I always wrote poetry — it was kind of my outlet,” Elijah reflected. “Middle school was very hard for me — a lot of bullying, a lot of being made fun of. It was really hard. Poetry was my only outlet. The only thing I really felt understood me was a blank sheet of paper and pen because at the end of the day that paper was able to understand everything I had ever written down … It’s just a great way for me to express myself. It has allowed me to be able to articulate who I am a lot better than I was before.”

Poetry, which started out as a way to heal and escape, has become a “love” and a “passion” for him. Mr. Ted Hornback ’83, Elijah’s poetry teacher, speaks on the budding talent that Elijah has and what he brings to the classroom.

“Elijah is an outstanding student because he combines natural ability, a positive attitude towards his studies, and consistent effort  — all in extraordinary degrees,” Mr. Hornback said. “The most striking characteristics of Elijah’s poetry are the depth and range of feeling that he is able to express … As a poet, he is already able to speak honestly and powerfully in his own voice.”

Expressing himself is one of the things that Elijah is known for around the campus of Jesuit High School Sacramento. But as he acknowledged, it wasn’t always something he felt comfortable doing.

A self-proclaimed “anti-social person” who loves to “spend the majority of my days in my room watching anime,” it took a while to get accustomed to being open and to finding his voice in leadership.

Before he could find his place in leadership, he had to find himself. Elijah reveals he has an ongoing battle with mental health, to the point where he told his counselor, Mrs. Angela Harger, “I can’t do this anymore. I don’t know what to do.”

“I struggle with depression and anxiety — struggle means I still do,” Elijah said. “I get panic attacks quite often. I have moments where I’m really happy, but I also have moments where I’m just really down, sad and I just feel horrible and like it’s not worth it anymore. People don’t understand that a lot of people deal with mental health and it needs to be normalized and I want people to understand they’re not alone.”

Through working with Mrs. Harger, Elijah found ways through his struggles. He shares his advice on how others can work through their own.

“My advice is not being afraid to share, being open and being willing to share will make your lives 100% better,” Elijah said. “And if you’re not ready, if you’re not willing to share, definitely find an outlet for you, whether it’s going outside, kicking a soccer ball, throwing the ball, writing poetry, writing articles, whatever it is. And then when you feel comfortable — and please don’t rush it — but when you feel comfortable, then share.”

After finding an avenue through poetry to get more in touch with himself, Elijah began to branch out. Elijah cites going to the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Organization (HOBY), a multi-day conference that was hosted at Sacramento State during the summer before his junior year, as his most impactful experience in leadership, a step that was urged by Mrs. Harger.

“I believe this opportunity lit a fire within Elijah and it has continued to have a ripple effect,” Mrs. Harger said. “Whether it’s in the classroom, on the soccer field, or in casual conversation, Elijah is trying to find a way to make a difference.”

Elijah’s outlets have evolved over time, and the presence he has on campus does not go unnoticed. He’s the outgoing president of the Black Student Union and was a star striker for the soccer team. He’s also been a part of the Multicultural Student Union and the track and field team. With so much involvement on campus, Elijah explains what it means to him to be a leader.

“Being a leader is not about taking control and being the person who does everything — it’s about making those around you better,” Elijah said. “You’ll need to take some initiative, but you want everyone to essentially have a part in coming together to make change.”

Social justice and racial justice came to the forefront of Elijah’s advocacy during his junior year and continued throughout his senior year. He has worked closely with the faculty and administration in an effort to help better the Jesuit community.

“Over the summer, I had a meeting with [Jesuit faculty and administration] as a way for [me], along with my BSU peers, to express [our]selves, let [the school] know what’s happening, what’s going on — real events on this campus that happen every single day,” Elijah said.

Leadership has always been an element that’s been incorporated into whatever Elijah is doing. This element shines in another one of his passions, soccer — a sport that he started playing at six years old.

Elijah reflects back on a moment in eighth grade when he was 14 that changed his outlook on the sport — a tournament loss that became his resolution to do better.

“It was Surf Cup in San Diego, one of the biggest tournaments in the country and a lot of college coaches were there,” Elijah said. “We had a tough showing our first two games and there was a coach that came to watch me from a PAC-12 school and our team overall didn’t have the best showing. It was at that moment when it kind of hit me like a reality check — [there are] so many more skills to the game of soccer than just finishing. It’s about your movement off the ball, on the ball, making the correct runs, and getting my teammates involved. And that’s where my leadership role started taking more place.”

With a resolution to commit himself to soccer, Elijah made the transition to high school in which success was immediate, scoring 46 goals in his first season and ending it by receiving “JV Offensive Player of the Year.” In the same season, he led his team to the San Joaquin Section title, a feat he would repeat in the following year. Elijah discusses how he navigated success and losses and asserts how that tournament in eighth grade changed his perspective.

“My junior season comes and it’s like my breakout year,” Elijah said. “I have a great season. Unfortunately, we had a tough loss in the [NorCal] state final, but that eighth grade game [in San Diego] was a great moment for me to reflect on where I needed to grow. [At Jesuit] I lost the state championships in both my sophomore year and junior year and as much as I cried and it was tough, it was also like ‘Remember how you made it,’ ‘Remember where you came from.’”

Jesuit Head Soccer Coach Paul Rose details the attributes that make Elijah an exemplary athlete as a player, teammate, and leader — all of which are a reflection of his character and work ethic.

“Elijah is a dream to coach,” Coach Rose said. “He is talented, motivated, and intuitive. He has played on the varsity since he was a sophomore and has been one of the top players in terms of scoring and assists. He leads by words but more importantly, by example. He is such a physical presence on the field and attracts so much of the other team’s attention… that he opens opportunities for teammates. Most importantly, he is a team player who puts others before himself. He doesn’t care who scores as long as the team scores. He has always been there for teammates when they struggle.”

Always being there for his teammates, a literal expression of being a man for others, is something that is also recognized by his peers. Longtime friend and teammate Joey Afsari ’21 describes that Elijah’s sense of compassion and giving spirit is present on and off the field.

“Aside from his pure talent and hard work, Elijah is a great teammate because he always supports his teammates and has their back,” Joey said. “Whenever I get into an altercation or get hurt, he’s the first person by my side. He’s exactly the same off the pitch, whenever I’m down and need someone to talk to, he’s always there for me, and that’s what makes him such a great friend.”

“It’s slowly starting to come”  — words that Elijah said after his second NorCal finals loss, but words that have become a reality. After a long recruitment process, interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Elijah has recently committed to Seattle University where he will play Division 1 soccer.

“I’ve never met better people than in Coach [Pete] Fewing and Coach [Nate] Daligcon,” Elijah said. “The biggest thing is they are very hands-on with the Black Lives Matter movement and they are about equality and equity. I’m going to another state where I’m new. I’m a young Black man and will still face challenges, unfortunately, but I know that the coaches have my best interest and will stand by my side.”

While he’s currently out on injury, Elijah’s got big dreams and goals for Seattle U when it comes to his future in soccer: “They want to win a national championship and I want to win a national championship, so at the end of the day, it’s great players, great team, great morals.”

From late 2020 into 2021, Elijah competed for the Seattle U Sullivan Leadership Award, which is a full-ride scholarship that is given to nine incoming freshmen based on their work in leadership beyond just academic excellence. After several rigorous rounds, he got the call in March that he would be a Sullivan Scholar.

“[When] I got the call, I was bawling my eyes out crying like crazy and my family was crying because it was a very big moment for myself seeing all of my work pay off,” Elijah said. “I put a lot of time and effort into this and getting to see it all pay off was very rewarding.”

At Seattle U, Elijah plans on studying computer science in pursuit of bachelor’s and master’s degrees. As for what he wants to do as a Sullivan Scholar and beyond, his answer is the same: “Giving back to my community is all I want to do.”

Growth is the word Elijah uses to sum up his time at Jesuit —  a sentiment shared by Academic Support Center Director Mrs. Carol Rose.

“Elijah has grown in his leadership abilities and in his ability to use his voice for change,” Mrs. Rose said. “Elijah is growing in his ability to understand himself and others. He has grown to be persistent, hard-working, resilient, and independent.”

Elijah has now graduated and is college-bound. He states that he’s in a very good place, happy and — injury aside — healthy. But all of this — everything he’s accomplished at Jesuit and the doors they’ve opened — almost didn’t happen. He recalls the moment that he contemplated leaving Jesuit and the conversation with All-American soccer player Kaba Alkebulan ’14, who’s also his trainer, that convinced him to stay.

“I was about to quit soccer, leave Jesuit, and start a whole new life for myself,” Elijah reflected. “Kaba reminded me that I will face adversity anywhere I go — the same things can be happening and [he reminded me of] the fact that my parents have sacrificed so much for me in terms of money for soccer, track, and schooling. So it was a quick reality check because if I can’t handle challenge now, how can I handle this in the real world?”

It’s that decision to stay that Elijah is most proud of from the last four years.

“I was planning on leaving, but there’s no telling of who Elijah Beverley would be now,” Elijah said. “All the trials and tribulations that I’ve faced at Jesuit have helped me become who I am today and helped me carry my head up high. It also taught me that I must continue to work hard, nothing is given to me, but also I am blessed at the same time. What I’m most proud of is my resilience to continue my journey at Jesuit and finding who I am because … [I wasn’t] confident in my skin freshman year or confident with who I am. I had a lot of insecurities as well. Despite the challenges, I realized I can persevere through adversity.”

Scholar, athlete, leader, poet, champion. There’s no doubt that Elijah is a multi-talent. He’s got a mind for engineering, a body born to run and compete, and an eloquence with words. In all that he does, he approaches with grace, humility, and compassion; his spirit — which at times has wavered — has turned from the cusp of abandonment into soaring resolution and resolve, but above all, he stays a man for and with others, a commitment that becomes clearer and clearer each day.