Athlete finds balance on course, in classroom

Junior cross country runner Erin Woodward gains life skills while balancing athletic competitions in cross country and track with her schoolwork as a student at UCA.

Woodward has run cross country for seven years, and is now in her third year competing for UCA.

She has always played sports, but she hasn’t always run cross country. She played soccer before she started running. She was told running was an easy sport, but Woodward does not believe this to be true anymore. However, she said she enjoys the challenge of running.

“It’s a mental game of telling your body you’re fine when you don’t feel fine,” Woodward said.

Her training partner is a major help for her. They run at the same pace, so they are able to encourage each other as they run.

“It’s a team sport, whether people see that or not,” Woodward said. “Without a training partner it would be rough. They know that every point counts, so everyone pushes each other to do their best.”

She said being in athletics gives her a family she can always count on. She and her teammates have a strong bond because they understand what one other is going through.

Through athletics, Woodward learned how to work with people and encourage others. She learned what gets her down and how to turn situations like these situations around.

Her favorite thing about cross country is that she can run anywhere. She doesn’t necessarily need anyone else to run; she has the freedom to run whenever and wherever she chooses.

Even though she won’t be in cross country or track after she graduates, she said she will continue to run.

Woodward said that her enjoyment of running, balancing sports with academics is no easy task and can be quite difficult. She does homework at every possible opportunity, even during her short breaks between classes. In order to stay organized, Woodward lives by her planner.

Woodward said traveling is also a big part of athletics, which can also be difficult. She said she had to travel to Florida for spring break last year.

She competes in cross country in the fall and track in the spring. All the girls on the cross country team are also on the track team. After this season of cross country ends, her track season will begin.

When she is not running or doing school work, Woodward loves to go to coffee shops and go hiking.

Woodward wants to be a professional physical therapist because she enjoys helping people do things they aren’t able to do.

Photo courtesy of Erin Woodward

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