Mike O’Brien ‘23
Chief Sports Editor
For the next installment of the Spire’s Student-Athlete Spotlight, I caught up with Sophie Haywood, a senior on the women’s cross country and track and field teams. Haywood is serving as a captain for the team alongside fellow seniors Claire Hanlon and Caitlin Tzimorotas.
Last cross country season, Haywood recorded personal bests in both the 5K and the 6K, running 19:13.8 at the UMass Dartmouth Invitational and 22:55.8 at the Paul Short Run, respectively.
Outside of running, Haywood is an Economics Major and Environmental Studies Minor, as well as having made the Patriot League Honor Roll in 2017, 2019, and 2020. She is also a tour guide with the Office of Admissions, and an intern for the Sustainability Department at the College.
Below were some of the questions I asked Sophie about her leadership roles on the team, returning to normalcy and more.
Q: As things slowly start to return to normal, what has it been like finally being able to run with teammates again compared to having to run alone for so many months?
A: Training from March through August was a unique experience for me since it was the longest stretch of time that I have ever trained by myself. Every fall there is a tangible difference in energy and motivation when we return to training alongside our teammates, but this year it was much more noticeable.
Q: As a captain, how have you been able to integrate first year members of the team in these unusual circumstances?
A: Each week, the team gets together for a Monday night Zoom meeting where we talk about our workout plans and mileage goals for the week. It has been really exciting to get everyone together, no matter where they are living this semester, and talk about cross country and life in general. It has been particularly exciting to hear from our two new first year teammates and hear about how running at home has been going for them.
Q: Although there have been lots of challenges for athletes over these last couple months, what do you think has been the most rewarding aspect of being a captain during these times?
A: It has been impressive and inspiring to see how well our team has persevered this season. When faced with many months of setbacks, delays, and challenges, our teammates have continued to show up to practices every week with a smile on their face, ready to work hard and make the most of an unconventional season.
Q: Both of your co-captains for this season are seniors as well. What has the dialogue between the three of you been like to ensure sure you make the most of the situation we are in before you graduate?
A: I feel incredibly lucky to have Claire Hanlon and Caitlin Tzimorotas as co-captains this season. As teammates and roommates this year, the three of us have spent a great deal of time and energy carefully planning how we can make the most out of our limited practice times while encouraging everyone to stay adaptable and motivated no matter what comes our way. Staying hopeful and optimistic about the future is essential for us as we move through this semester and look forward to our final semester here at Holy Cross.
Q: With the Patriot League announcing a potential make-up championship race sometime in the early spring, how much of a motivating factor is this for you and your teammates to stay fit and be ready to race?
A: When we first heard about a make-up championship in the early spring, we were not sure what to expect. Now that we have been able to see the idea evolve, it has been helpful to know that there is potential for at least one cross country race with the entire Patriot League this season. Having a clear goal that we are working towards helps us all to stay focused and consistent in our training.
Q: Looking ahead to the outdoor track season, what are some personal goals you’re looking to accomplish?
A: After having our last outdoor track season cancelled, I am especially looking forward to getting back into the steeplechase! There is no other running event like it, and I can’t wait to tackle the water pit again this spring.
Q: What’s your favorite memory as a member of the HCXC Team?
A: The night before the Patriot League Championship meet last year, our head coach, Jim Kavanagh, gave us a pep talk in the lobby of our hotel. I remember he sat us down and reviewed the Colgate course, reflected on our season up until that point, and offered words of encouragement and advice. He then went on to talk about what made our team so strong that season, and one of the last things he said was “the love that you all have for each other is what sets you apart”. That one line really struck a chord with me, and I remember replaying it in my mind while walking to the starting line the following morning. It perfectly captures how for us, cross country is so much more than an individual sport, and being a part of a tight knit team has made all of the difference for me over these past four years.
Thank you kindly again to Sophie for sharing her experiences with the team over these last few months, and best of luck to the women’s cross country team in their forthcoming competitions.