Maria Ervin excels at two R's - running and writing.

If you pay real close attention to everything Maria Ervin says you might detect a hint of an accent in her speech. That is very impressive when you consider that the Forest Hills Northern senior did not speak a word of English when she came here at age eleven from Russia. While you might miss the slight accent, there is no way you could miss the passion and enthusiasm in Maria’s voice as she talks about two of her favorite things: running and friends.
As a middle school student Maria experimented with basketball, soccer, and volleyball before her friend Nicki Keller talked her into trying out for the cross country team. Maria has focused on running ever since. This time of year she runs track for the Huskies where she competes in distance events like the 800, the mile, and distance relays. First year coach Stephanie Hare was full of kind words about Ervin.
“She has a good attitude and works hard for the team,” Hare commented. “She is a good kid – she does the little things you want as a coach.”
Hare went on to explain that Maria can always be trusted to put in her training distances. She works hard in practice and sets a great example for her teammates. Last week Maria put aside that she was not feeling 100% and ran her heart out in the 4x800 relay against conference rival Sparta, which made a real favorable impression on her coach.
Ervin’s grasp of good sportsmanship came to the fore near the end of last week when they faced Sparta and others in the conference meet. It was another close race which the Spartans eventually won. However, their team was disqualified on a technical mistake which made Maria and her teammates conference champs. When they saw how devastated the Spartan team was, Maria and the other relay runners went over to offer up support and words of comfort to them. When she spoke with us about the incident, instead of gloating about the Husky win Ervin felt truly bad for her opponents who she credited with being faster that day.
That incident gives a good indication of the kind of behavior one could expect from Maria on and off the track. Chris Ervin, Maria’s adopted mom, related that her daughter’s kindness toward others is one of her favorite characteristics. Chris, a single mom, made the decision to travel to Russia to adopt the eleven year old Maria based on a strong feeling she got when she saw her picture in a book of older children who were available for adoption. As they were waiting for all the paperwork to be completed, Maria was allowed to stay with Chris for a night at her hotel. Chris gave Maria some money and expected the girl to go down to the lobby and buy some candy or something else for herself. Chris was amazed and pleased when Maria returned a little while later with a bouquet of flowers for her.
Maria arrived in the States speaking no English, but she proved to be a fast learner. In fact, Maria now has such a good command of the language that she has already been published in Teen Ink and a book. She wrote an essay as a sophomore which eventually was published as a chapter in Chicken Soup for the Adopted Soul entitled “What It’s Like to Truly Have a Mother”. Maria and her mom are working on a book together that chronicles the experience of becoming mother and daughter. They have three chapters drafted and Chris is shopping for a publisher. Speaking around her laughter, Maria told us she used the money from her contribution to the Chicken Soup book for a prom dress last year and then confessed that she is not very good at saving money.
That may be true, but she has managed to save her mom some money with her running talents. Maria will be attending Lansing Community College next year on a full ride scholarship. It should come as no surprise that she will be majoring in journalism, with a minor emphasis on fashion.
Maria is looking forward to the summer. She will be reunited with her good friend and former teammate Lauren Calhoun. The two of them will be training together during the day and working together in the evening waiting tables at a relative’s restaurant in Onekama. As we said above; for Maria it doesn’t get much better than running with friends.
The relationship between Maria and Chris is a tremendous testimony to the rich possibilities of adopting. Since it went so well with Maria, Chris returned to Russia two years after adopting her to adopt Lucy. Lucy is a junior who is fluent in three languages and is currently studying in Italy. Chris Ervin closed our conversation about Maria by saying, “If this story would even inspire one other person to adopt an older child, then that would be great.”
We can’t wait to learn of Maria Ervin’s exploits as a runner for LCC and are eager for a chance to read the book she is working on with her mom.
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