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Aayush Shah:

All-Star can ‘really, really’ run

December 25, 2008|By Ruth Longoria

He may have “stumbled into” cross country, but La Cañada High School junior Aayush Shah is making a name for himself running in that sport.

Shah, 16, is this week’s Valley Sun All-Star. He was nominated by Valley Sun sports editor Seth Amitin.

“Aayush is a really good athlete, a great runner,” Amitin said.

Shah’s coaches at the high school agree.

“I wish I had 12 kids just like him,” said Mike Thatcher, assistant cross-country coach at La Cañada High, adding that he appreciates Shah’s maturity and dedication to his sport.


Thatcher described Shah as: focused, respectful, a team leader, and a hard worker. “As a runner, Aayush has the rare ability to take the pain he’s feeling and contain it, and keep on running,” Thatcher said, adding, “You can see it in his face that he’s hurting, but he just keeps going.”

Shah is the son of Chirag and Shami Shah. He has a brother, Anubhav, 14, a freshman at the high school. Aayush was born in Mumbai, India. In Indian, his first name means “life,” his mother said, adding that Anubhav’s name meand “experience.”

The family lived in India until Aayush finished fifth grade. They moved to La Cañada, because of Chirag Shah’s work, in time for Aayush to begin sixth grade at Paradise Canyon Elementary School. He later attended La Cañada 7/8.

Aayush Shah has been involved in sports all of his life, playing tennis while in India. At La Cañada High, he “fell into cross country by default,” his mom said.

The youth wanted to play soccer, but was required to take a second sports activity in order to play soccer. So, he thought he’d try cross-country, Shami Shah said.

“That’s when we discovered he really, really could run,” she said.

The youth has been running ever since, breaking records and making strong competition for other skilled area athletes, his coach said.

“One of the fastest kids in the state is in our league, and Aayush has consistently gone after him; he’s got a lot of guts,” Thatcher said.

In addition to running, Shah enjoys all sports, especially playing football and basketball, he said. He also likes to play video games with friends, or go biking or hiking.

“Anything out in the open, he loves being outdoors,” his mom added.

He also enjoys volunteerism and community service projects. Two years ago, he volunteered at La Cañada Public Library, where he helped shelve books and perform other assorted jobs. For the past four years, he’s been a volunteer at Verdugo Hills Hospital, where he spends about four hours each Saturday, assisting staff with patients and helping wherever needed.

After high school, Shah plans to continue on to college and someday become a professional soccer manager. He also is interested in engineering, he said.

IF YOU’D LIKE TO NOMINATE an exceptional young person who lives in La Cañada or is a student here to be a Valley Sun All Star, e-mail us at

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