When planning for college, Sarah Fowler ’17 knew that running would continue to play a huge role in her life. “I’ve been running for 10 years now. I started in seventh grade and once I got started, I was hooked,” she says.
Fowler wrapped up her final indoor season on the Ohio Wesleyan University women’s track and field team in March by winning All-America honors at the NCAA Division III indoor championship meet in Naperville, Ill. Her fourth-place finish in the 5000-meter run with a time of 16:54.38 broke her own school record set earlier this season.
She also won All-America honors for the second year in a row at the NCAA Division III cross country championship meet in Louisville, Ky., in the fall. She was runner of the year for the North Coast Athletic Conference in cross country in 2016.
With graduation quickly approaching, Fowler, who spends a lot of time putting one foot in front of the other, has been thinking about her next steps. Her double major in exercise science and psychology with a minor in zoology was meant to prepare her for a career in physical therapy, but a summer internship made her question if the field was right for her.
She always expected to coach running, maybe at the middle school or high school level, but only recently began to think of it as a career. Finally, in the fall, she decided: “No more PT; it’s coaching.”
With the help of faculty in the Health and Human Kinetics Department, Fowler course corrected for her new path. She is applying for college recruitment intern positions for cross country and track while also earning her master’s degree online. “Hopefully I’ll be helping recruit and doing more of the nitty-gritty things you see going on outside of practice,” she says.
Fowler is excited to stay involved with the sport. “It’s the biggest stress-reliever in my life. If I’ve been having a bad day or I just need time to think, I go for a run. It helps de-stress, helps to clarify, just helps me make sense of the situation I’m having trouble with at the time.”
She also says that running taught her self-discipline. “We do a lot of running at practice, but when we go out for our runs, we’re not with coach,” she says. “No one is watching over us, there’s no film, there’s no one but you the entire time to make sure you’re running a good pace or not stopping or cutting runs short.”
Running isn’t all hard work and lessons to Fowler though; she considers it a huge part of her social life.
“A good majority of my close friends are on the team. Coming to college and joining a team, you kind of have automatic friends,” she says. “Those are the first people you meet because we come a week early, before anyone else is on campus. You form so many close bonds because you’re running together for hours a week. It’s just really good quality conversation, and you really get to know people.”
Fowler says she plans to keep up with her teammates after graduation, as she has done with her Fredericktown High School team in her hometown of Mount Vernon, Ohio. “I still check their times, see if they’re improving,” she says.
She may be sad to leave OWU, but Fowler is looking forward to her future in coaching. “No overthinking it. This is definitely the right path for me.”
– Erin England