This week I had the chance to talk to Hannah Kinzer and Teddy Kortenhof, both senior runners for Lawrence’s women’s and men’s cross country teams. It may seem weird to be talking to cross country athletes in the winter; however, both teams were just honored for academic excellence by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). Both teams won the All-Academic Team award. For eligibility, teams must have a minimum grade point average of 3.10 GPA. The women’s team posted the fifth-highest GPA with an average in the nation of 3.77. The men’s team posted the twelfth best in the nation with a GPA of 3.57. Congratulations teams!
Shane Farrell: How do you personally handle the rigors of academia and being a full-time athlete?
Hannah Kinzer: While there are times when balancing athletics and academics is difficult, I find it important to remind myself that they can complement one another to make a more well-rounded individual. For example, whenever I have felt stuck or frustrated doing homework, the act of coming to practice, talking to teammates and physically moving helps me to get mentally moving.
Teddy Kortenhof: Being a student athlete is hard. Keeping up with classes, while at the same time training and competing is a lot. That said, there is no silver bullet to help handle everything. It just takes dedication and some time management.
SF: Do the upperclassmen help the new athletes with homework or tutoring or anything like that?
HK: Yes. At the beginning of the season we make a spreadsheet listing each person’s major and what subjects they are able to tutor. I found it helpful to ask upperclassmen about what combinations of classes were most feasible for a term because they were able to offer insight into the time commitment and rigor of different courses.
TK: As a team we do not do much formal tutoring, but everyone on the team is generally willing to help out others when they need it. For the entire cross country season, we held weekly study tables. They weren’t mandatory, but people seemed to enjoy studying together, so we kept holding them.
SF: It may seem to some that this is an insignificant award; however, I view it as a really big deal, and to get it multiple years in a row is even more impressive. What are your thoughts on the award?
HK: I think it goes to show that student athletes are able to be successful at Lawrence. Hard work both on and off the field are valued at Lawrence.
TK: I am proud of the team for winning the award. While we are all athletes, we are students first. I am proud that we as a team have been able to be successful both in athletic competition, but also in the classroom.
SF: What will you miss most about cross country?
HK: I will miss running through neighborhoods and parks with my teammates on sunny autumn days. I will miss lacing up my spikes and getting on the starting line with 100+ other talented women. I will miss running through forests and fields and golf courses and hearing the thunder of footfalls all around. But most of all, I will miss turning in other directions besides left on a track.
TK: I will miss a lot about cross country after I graduate. I love the idea of distance running and the pursuit to be the best one can be. I love working together towards a common goal and seeing the fruits of that labor. Most of all though, I will miss the people. My teammates are some of my dearest friends. They are people I know that I can rely on no matter what. Seeing the same people every day for years is a wonderful thing, and is something I will greatly miss.