With the 2020 track season just a few months away, it is impossible not to feel the excitement building at Lyons High School. Athletes are already hitting the weight room every day after school to train for the upcoming season. It was in the weight room where I overheard Katie Fankhouser commenting on how she wished more girls would join the sprinting team.
Katie is an athletic legend in the making. With a cross country state championship and a bronze medal from an international women’s kayaking competition, she has had a wildly successful few years in multiple athletic events. But Katie is not the type to just settle with what she has, so this year she set a new goal for herself: to become a strong sprinter in track, and to encourage more girls to do the same.
To further her cause, she agreed to do an interview with me. Our interview took place in the school halls during lunch.
Chloe: What do you think it takes to be a sprinter?
Katie: I think the most important part of being a sprinter is commitment. Just putting in the time in the weight room, keeping yourself in shape, and always being willing to show up to practice and try your best.
Chloe: How do sprinters train to do well in races?
Katie: Our workouts are periodic, with only a couple per week, and a lot of our training involves weightlifting. Our workouts are designed to build strength and agility, which are major components of becoming a really fast sprinter.
Chloe: What are the advantages of being a sprinter?
Katie: There are so many advantages to being a sprinter: overall athletic ability, being in better shape, being healthier, and getting to be a part of a track team that can seem like a second family at Lyons High School.
Chloe: What are some barriers to be broken down in terms of getting more girls involved in track?
Katie: I think just getting the word out to more girls. A lot of girls don’t think to join the track team, but really everyone can do it and it’s such a fun experience whether you’re the fastest person on the track or the slowest.
Chloe: What do you like about sprinting?
Katie: This actually goes for all of track, not just sprinting, but it’s the sense of community you get from being on the team. All of my friends are in track and it’s super fun to work out together. Also, you get to miss some school for meets, which is always pretty fun.
Chloe: What is your favorite memory from being in track?
Katie: My favorite memory from track is definitely the 4 x 800 meter relay last year at State. My team won the state title and my legs actually collapsed, and I lay face down in the dirt, but I was smiling because I was so happy we won.
Chloe: What is your greatest achievement in track?
Katie: Winning the 4 x 800 meter state title for sure.
Chloe: Why do you want more girls to become sprinters?
Katie: I want more girls to join track because I think it’s really fun when we have a big team. It creates such a great dynamic where we all hang out and bond. It’s such a joy to have so many girls to train with and work together with to become better athletes. Also, I’m really hoping that a bigger team will better our chances of winning state this year.
Joining track is a big commitment. Many students have heard the stories of Mr. Roberts expecting his athletes to be highly disciplined and focused on the task at hand in order to keep themselves in good physical and mental health. But this doesn’t mean that you have to be the fastest runner at school to be a part of the team. Any track athlete will tell you that your dedication is more important than your race times. Track can provide opportunities for athletic improvement and scholarships, but also the chance to bond with a great group of people and to forge a stronger identity for yourself. It is with this in mind that I, along with Katie, Mr. Roberts, and every other track athlete urge the girls of Lyons to join track this season.
Chloe Els is a sophomore at Lyons High School where she is a member of Science and Leadership, Student Council, Yearbook, and cross country. She is also the recipient of the 2018 Lyons Roar Award for single handedly starting the middle school newspaper. As of now, Chloe is working on becoming an active leader in her community and hoping desperately to pass all of her final exams. Chloe lives with her family in the Lyons area.