The following responses were provided by Alex Schoen, a senior on the cross country team this year. Schoen reflected on her time on the team and offered advice to prospective and future team members.
TPN: What prompted your interest in the team? Did you play prior to college?
AS: I actually started college my freshman year on the rowing team. I rowed for four years in high school and it is my first love, but due to discrepancies between me and the team[,] I decided to quit. Ever since I was little I was always part of team sports; soccer, swimming, dancing, rowing; so not being on a team going into [my] sophomore year was unnerving. That’s when I discovered the cross country team (XC) through a Facebook post from a teammate, Grace. She said that the XC team was looking for new members and I had run a marathon in the spring, so I decided to give it a try.
TPN: How would you describe your time on the team?
AS: My time on the team has truly shaped my St. Mary’s experience. As soon as I joined I was [greeted] with such love and respect, not only for each other but for myself. Running is an interesting sport because you are always competing against other teams, your own teammates, and yourself at all times. There is an elegant destructive nature to a running team: you have to destroy yourself to make the team better.
TPN: Do you have any memorable experiences with any of the players, or a favorite event?
AS: There are two memories that stick out for me during my time on the team. First, this past season the women’s team took home 3rd at [a meet at Hood College]. I [had] never won an individual medal or taken home any awards, this was the first one. The best part was that every woman on the team contributed to our success, whether it was scoring or pushing each other to go harder.
TPN: The typical college student questions: What is your major, and why did you choose it? What are your plans for after college? Do you intend to continue the sport?
AS: I am a biology major with a math minor. I have always loved science and biology is a lifelong passion. Recently I accepted a position next year at the Endocrinology Reproductive Lab in Disney World, where I will be participating in an internship for the next seven months. I intend to keep running for the rest of my life. Running is something you can’t just give up, it becomes additive, an obsession. I have already completed five marathons and at least ten half-marathons. Running is joy and I get that from my dad who in running his 60th marathon in a month.
TPN: What would you say to students who are considering joining the team next year?
AS: There is no looking back. Once you become a runner you never “un-become” one. It doesn’t matter how fast you are or your times compared to someone else, it matters if you are better than yesterday. The team is comprised of all kinds of people, some who are really fast and some who are there to be healthy. Everyone on the team is a better person when they wake up the day after a long run.
TPN: Is there anything else about you or about the team you would like TPN to know?
AS: I can not emphasize how much running is an addiction. Sometimes I wake up for an early morning run and it takes me an hour to get out of bed because I don’t know why I choose to do this to my body. But I always get up and I always enjoy how I feel later in the day. I don’t run to look good or go fast, I run because my mental state would fall apart without it. I always run to eat. I like to eat things that are bad for me so I have to compensate somehow.