Pursuing dreams on race track;

Venturing into unknown

Annie Finholm, Reporter

    It’s race day and Junior Emma Stoffel says that “I feel nervous and [I] have a pit in my stomach. I don’t know how I am going to perform[,] and worry if I am going to come in last, but I just take deep breaths and shake off my nerves. I just know that I will do my best.” 

    Ever since Stoffel turned five years old, she has been playing sports, beginning with soccer and softball. After her time playing soccer with the Hickory Hornets, she played “indoor soccer for [four] years and outdoor for [seven] years,” winning the championship game in 2019. In addition to this, the athlete has also dedicated four years of her time to basketball.  

    Stoffel’s love for Track and Field was kindled her sophomore year, wanting to attempt a new sport while building her résumé, but her participation was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. She has always considered herself to be a runner and by joining track, she could “perform in a sport that was not team-based like soccer,” enabling her to earn points for herself.  

    The athlete was drawn to track, having a deep-rooted passion for running. Engaging in a sport that “challenges [her] to be a better runner and improve [her] form” has always interested Stoffel. Having the opportunity to try a new sport while simultaneously representing her school inspired the athlete to try out.  

    Stoffel mainly runs “the 800 meters and [relays],” as well as the “4×800.” However, she has also participated in the “Distance Medley, which [consists] of 1200, 400, 800, [and] 1600 meters.” While the training can be “vigorous” and meets can bring negative emotions, the runner relies on the support from her teammates and coaches to continue to push herself.  

    The runner’s experience has been positive overall but has not been without hardships. There was a week of practice the athlete had to miss because of a bad cold and suffered a “strained quad muscle” after her recovery. Stoffel has been very hard on herself in the past and is working to become more confident in herself. She pushes herself to improve her time no matter what event she is in.  

    When she reflects on her journey in the sport, Stoffel wants to remind others that pacing is important. She warns that if a runner starts the season pushing themselves too hard at practice, it can only hurt them. Paying attention to the body is key to success, she states, because “if you feel like something is off when you run, you will make it worse [if you keep going].” 

    According to the athlete, track requires “hard work and dedication.” With the right coaches and proper training, one can excel. Being aware of situations one puts their body into is a skill that coincides with track and is something that Stoffel has found herself more capable of.