By Sanya-Kay Johnson on Jun 16, 2011
Powerful Women Hawks Burning Up the Track and the Classroom
The Hawks Women Indoor Track Team headed to the 168 Street armory in upper Manhattan one Monday in early February to compete in the CUNYAC Championships, and it was there that sophomore Lizzy Mahoney demonstrated the sports prowess that earned her The City University of New York Athletic Conference Indoor Women’s Performer of the Year Award.
Mahoney ran to victories in the 1500 meter and 3000 meter events February 28, shining as the top women’s performer for the Hawks alongside teammate Melanie Boyce, a sophomore, who topped the field in the high jump. Her victory added to the Hawk’s 17 top-five finishes and overall team finish of second place with 127 points.
The Hawks returned again to the 168th Street armory March 4 to conclude their season in the Eastern Conference Athletic Conference Championships. Representing the Hawks was a small contingent: Mahoney, Jacklyn Henderson, Nancy Olisma and Jelisa Forde. They competed against more than 45 teams with some of the top track and field athletes on the East Coast. A little over a week later, the four were honored as CUNYAC All Stars for the 2010-2011 Indoor Track and Field seasons.
Mahoney’s outstanding performance throughout the season, including anchoring the distance medley relay squad with Henderson and Olisma, and setting a school record, ECAC qualifying mark and first place finish, earned her top honors. Olisma, a senior and captain, was recognized for her 800 meter run at the conference meet where she finished first, earning the Hawks 10 points. Henderson, another senior, was acknowledged for her second place in both the 1500 and 3000 meter runs behind her teammate. Forde, a freshman, earned all-star honors, placing second in the 400-meter dash at the CUNYAC Championships.
Mahoney, Olisma and Henderson opened up to this reporter about their motivation and how they balance athletics, academics and a social life. “I can’t imagine myself without running,” said 19-year-old Mahoney. “It fits my personality so well; doing it keeps me sane.” Mahoney, who has been on the team for the last two years, began running in middle school. “I wanted to join the football team but didn’t make it, so a friend suggested I join the cross-country track team,” Mahoney said.
Said Olisma, 22: “I was encouraged by my basketball teammates [and a former coach] … because they thought I was very fast. I also enjoyed racing my basketball teammates whenever we had to do suicides.” Olisma was a member of the women’s basketball team during her freshman and sophomore years, 2007 to 2009. She has been a member of the track team for two seasons, two seasons of indoor track and three seasons of outdoor track.
Henderson, 21, on the other hand, originally started in track as a member of her high school track and cross-country team from 9th to 12th grade. “I had free time during my first semester at Hunter so I decided to join the team to meet new people,” she said. She’s been on the team for three semesters. Meeting new people and developing friends rank among the satisfying things about being on the team for these student-athletes.
“The most satisfying thing about being on the team is developing life-long friendships that helps me grow not only athletically but also as a person,” said Olisma who was interviewed by the gym where she was wearing sweats pants, a hunter sweatshirt and sneakers.
“The team spends the majority of everyday with each other,” said Henderson, double majoring in biology and adolescent education. “We have developed such strong bonds.”
This bond forms not only because they train together but they also share similar residences. “I am best friends with all my team mates,” said Mahoney. “I spend my day with them at practice and then I also live with them in the dorms. It’s always interesting, never boring.” The women reside in the EHS dorm of The New Yorker Hotel.
Their relationship helps them maintain a social life, despite the demands on their time. “I have a great social life with friends from my dorm and the track team,” said Henderson, who was clad in a belted sun dress, a black cardigan and sandals when interviewed leaving the Hunter locker room. “Being on the track team has only enhanced my social life because I have made a lot of real friends.”
“Being on a team is a type of social life in itself,” said Olisma. “The team and I plan several outings throughout the season, whether its dinner or movie, we all try to bond outside of track.”
“Having a social life is an important part of college life,” said Mahoney, interviewed on the eighth floor of the Hunter West Building. Dressed in a printed blouse, jeans and cream flats, she said “but I still try to be responsible. I make sure I get my work done first.”
“At times it might seem like I have spread myself too thin,” said Mahoney, a double major in economics and accounting, about trying to balance academics, athletics and everything else. “However, over the years I’ve learned time management – I never have to sacrifice one or the other. My running is good and my GPA is high.”
The others also that time management was key. “I have to make daily schedules for myself and block out times for schoolwork around practice times and meets,” said Olisma, an English Language Arts major. Said Henderson, “I try to practice good time management in order to handle classes and practice together. Track helps with stress, which helps me handle academics more efficiently.”
“Time management isn’t very hard for me,” said Olisma, “especially since I am doing what I love – to run, play a sport.”
“My motivation for being on the team is the feeling after a good race when all of my hard work and dedication pays off,” said Henderson. “It is truly an amazing feeling, almost addictive.”
Sanya-Kay Johnson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org