Child is father to the man, etc. From TNR’s rather exhaustive look at Palin’s formative years:
But Palin compensated for what she lacked in talent (and height) with a freakish intensity. When I asked Elwyn Fischer, another classmate, how Palin got the nickname “barracuda,” he thought it had to do with “that little grin thing she does.” “She sets her teeth, it looks like she’s eating jerky,” Fischer said. “Flashing some fang, you know.” Teeguarden allowed that “as a young player–freshman, sophomore–she was a bit foul-prone. … She wasn’t about to back down. I’m guessing it was connected to those kinds of things.”
Palin is often described in profiles as an academic standout. But, as on the basketball court, she was good but not great. Like most high schools, Wasilla had several distinct subcultures–among them, a religious/jock clique, of which Palin was a part, and a group of more bookish kids that took AP classes and studied theater. “We were considered the geekier, nerdy kids. We were smarter,” recalls Elle Ede, another classmate. And yet Palin didn’t lack for academic ambition. Rodger Foreman, one of her English teachers, would allow students to appeal their exam grades if they felt they’d been scored harshly. Foreman recalls that Palin regularly availed herself of the appeals process. “She was kind of like that. She thought she was right.”
By the way, I really wanted to work in a “Trollope” joke here but was worried you’d think I was referring to that insane Cindy McCain story.