Senior Athlete Spotlight: Katie Phipps

After spending four years at St. Mary’s, senior and cross country athlete Katie Phipps shared her bittersweet feelings about leaving college. “I definitely have mixed feelings, and a lot of sadness now that the season is over. But I had a really great experience doing cross-country, and it was probably one of the best decisions I made coming into college.”

Katie’s first year at St. Mary’s, 2009, was the first year the cross country teams became varsity teams. Katie explained that being part of such a new team probably made her athletic experience different from most, and said, “the athletics department has been really supportive of the new program…we literally built the program. Before I came to St. Mary’s there was no cross country team, so we were the first team. I’m happy with what it’s become, and I have really good feelings for the future, but I’m also happy my time is up.”

Creating a team is not necessarily an easy venture. And the cross country team saw some coaching changes. Coach Tom Fisher, who helped start the program, officially became the coach again in February of this year.

In response to the coaching changes, Phipps said, “We had a coaching change last year. She was the coach for two years…that was also really difficult. I loved Coach [Lynnette] O’Dell, I thought she was a great coach, but it’s a lot harder building a program than I thought it was. I think the athletic department here did a great job supporting our team, and I really felt that appreciation.” She also said, “The coaching change obviously lead to a lot of difficulties in the team and the team cohesiveness between the men and women’s teams, but hopefully thats getting resolved.”

She explained that after eight years of a sport, it sometimes feels exhausting, but that she is excited to move on to new things. This future might even involve coaching. “I’d like to coach in the future and help other people to run,” Phipps said. “That’s one of my dreams and I feel like St. Mary’s athletics prepared me for that. But I’m happy I won’t have to compete anymore at a level where I’m being judged by coaches.”

Outside of cross country, Phipps also worked for Nairem Moran, the Sports Information Director. She loved the experience, and said that it gave her a new appreciation of sports. She said, “I basically have gone to every kind of sporting event that we offer here. It’s really opened my eyes to all the groups and teams we have here, and all the hard work that different athletes put in no matter what sport they’re in. It’s made me a lot more appreciative of athletes in general. Everyone puts in all this effort, and you can really see it when you go to all the events. My dad was shocked when he found out I was working for Nairem because I’m not a big sports person at all, but now I definitely see the dedication that all the teams put in, and it’s made me a better person.”

Although she switched her major a couple of times, Phipps decided to be a psychology and history double major. Although she said she would not consider herself very active in terms of other extracurricular activities, Phipps did a semester of crew, a semester of dance club, studied abroad in Australia, and even did a radio show her freshman year. She considered cross country to be her biggest commitment outside of school, and said, “I kind of just took cross country and ran with it, literally.”

In the future she wants to get a masters degree in school psychology or youth development. She added, “I’m also interested in going to the Peace Corps and working with youth and community development in a place that could use help.” When asked where she would want to go she responded, “Honestly, I’ve thought about it, and there is nowhere I don’t want to go. Ideally I would go to Central America or South East Asia, but I know the majority of people go to Africa, and that would still be an amazing experience.”

This summer Phipps will work at Camp Greentop, a camp she has worked at before for adults and children with mental disabilities. She said, “This is something I really love doing.”

As to leaving St. Mary’s, Phipps said, “I will miss my professors, I will miss my classes, I will miss this environment. St. Mary’s has shaped who I am, it’s part of who I am, and obviously I’ll take that with me anywhere I go. Relating to cross-country, the team means so much to me. I will miss them so much. I will definitely cherish these years.”

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