Lone senior grateful for SPU, running

Seattle Pacific University has a young women’s cross country team. So young, in fact, that it only has one senior running this year. McKayla Fricker may be the only runner of the Class of 2014, but that doesn’t discourage her in the least.

“It’s weird not having somebody your age to connect with that has had the same experiences,” Fricker said. “But with this team, it honestly hasn’t mattered at all. Everyone has been very close with the team, and the age difference hasn’t been important.”

Running and college have always been inseparable for Fricker, but it wasn’t originally cross country that she was interested in running.

“I’d say I’m more of a mid-distance runner,” she said. “I was planning on just doing track until some of the cross country runners got injured halfway through the season of my freshman year and they asked me if I could join.”

Despite it not being her original plan, Fricker ended up running cross country every year. It hasn’t been without its trials, though.

“Every year, I’ve either recovered from an injury or suffered one,” Fricker said. “Despite that, I’ve not let it stop me…  It’s extremely difficult getting injured in-season. It takes a lot out of you because all you want to do is race with your team, but you can’t. But it’s a time where you really grow a lot, and it happens for a reason. I’m not looking back at my injuries — I’m looking forward, and having success.”

Fricker’s fierce determination for success has definitely left an impression on the other runners.

“Last year during the indoor season at conference, I didn’t do so hot, and McKayla was encouraging me,” sophomore Lynelle Decker said. “She was saying how the same thing happened to her freshman year, and she really inspired me to keep trying, even when I felt I wasn’t going anywhere. She’s a living example with her injuries. When I first met her last season, she had something injured with her IT band and cross-trained a lot, setting a goal that she would run.”

Fricker’s love for her team goes far, and it’s what she’s going to miss the most.

“It’s definitely going to be really difficult,” she said. “There aren’t really any professional cross country teams, and with track it’s all about you, and cross country it’s about the team. I’ll miss the teamwork we have.”

On the newcomers this year, she couldn’t be more proud.

“We’ve got some strong freshmen,” Fricker said. “Our team is really young — we have three freshmen on the top seven. They just came in and worked their butts off. I’ve been impressed with them being able to transition into college, into a new team and new coaches. It’s exactly what we needed.”

Fricker plans on going to graduate school to get a master’s of arts in teaching.

“I want to teach first through third grade,“ Fricker said. “I feel I’m called to be with the little kids. I feel joy teaching them and watching their growth.”

While Fricker’s running for the Falcons may be coming to a close, she won’t stop in what she’s grown to love.

“Running is definitely a big part of my life — it’s what got me here to SPU,” Fricker said. I’m so grateful that running has given me the opportunity to go to SPU… Running is one of the ways of praising the Lord. It takes away the pressure, and you’re just able to run free.”

This article was posted in the section Sports.