Many of us ran track or cross country in high school, seeing it as an easy way to stay in shape – and spend time with friends. Little did we know, that these seemingly easy activities would become more equitable to ancient Chinese prisoner torture. Running as fast as one can for miles on end can indeed be quite exhausting and many quit right after their first practice.
Yet for the strong few, the rewards are quite exemplary. Mental fortitude and peak physical condition are two of the many bonuses, but for one senior at the College of Charleston, these sports have helped shape her life.
As the third of three sisters to attend the College, Cara Butcher decided to walk-on when she arrived her freshman year. Three years and many races later, Butcher now finds herself as one of the senior linchpins for not only the track and field team, but also the cross country team.
“Here was one of the only schools that I considered running at, because I knew that I definitely wanted to do education, and then I ended up deciding that I might as well talk with Coach [Amy] Seago and she said that I was welcome on the team,” Butcher said.
Having just started running cross country in middle school and following in her sisters’ footsteps by running track in high school, Butcher seamlessly fit into the collegiate circuit, and began to compete at a high level.
“I used to play soccer and then I tried cross country, and I liked it, and then my older sisters ran track in high school and told me to join the team freshman year. So I did and I really liked it,” Butcher said.
Having come to college without a real training or exercise plan, Butcher was able to learn from her coaches and catapult herself to an entirely new level. The new training and exercise plans allowed Butcher to record personal bests in the 800 and 1500 meters her freshman year.
“[Coach Seago] asked me what my training plan was, and I pretty much had nothing, so she said I could be a walk-on and figure it out from there,” Butcher said.
Unlike most collegiate athletes who compete for one season and then train during the other, Butcher is always in competition mode, as she competes in both track and field and cross country. She must train year round, hardly ever giving herself a break from the action, as she travels over most weekends in the fall and spring.
“Doing cross country and track, you’re in season all year. You come here and by August you are already going off to meets right up until May,” Butcher said.
Yet, choosing between cross county and track is tough for Butcher as she enjoys certain aspects from each sport, as each sport has its own unique qualities.
“I like cross county because I like the meets better, but the nice thing about track is that it is a much bigger group, which is fun,” Butcher said.
Having suffered an injury during the cross country season, Butcher is hoping to be able to compete just one more time before the end of her collegiate career, ending her time in college at the top.
“I do want to race again, but I am still recovering right now, so hopefully I can just get one last collegiate race in there,” Butcher said.
When not dedicating herself to sports, Butcher is busy studying to finish her degree in education, where she hopes she can combine her love of sports with the prospect of teaching children.
“I’ve had classes that I took here that were focused on how you are supposed to include activity into your classroom, and that’s one thing that I will definitely want to do” Butcher said.
Butcher’s four years at the College have been a rousing success. She also seems to have fallen in love with the city, not easily persuaded to return home to New York just yet.
“I like Charleston a lot, ever since coming here. It’s been great and I’m not quick to leave,” Butcher said.
From her days as an undiscovered walk-on to a cornerstone of both the cross country and track teams, Butcher has succeed athletically and most importantly, academically. Butcher will definitely take what she has learned here and apply it to her classroom, where she will help drive not only a smarter, but also fitter America.