The Internet Home of Track & Field

 The first year after of high school can be filled with new challenges, unexpected success, surprising disappointment, homesickness, bad dining hall food, new friends and late nights.  Knowing the adjustment isn't always easy, we've asked ESPN RISE intern Hilary May, herself a high school standout at Corona del Mar CA and a collegiate runner at Harvard, to contact some of last year's top prep track and field athletes and find out how things are going...one year out.

                                                   Mary Kate Champagne

“The biggest shock was forgetting my uniform the first race we went to. 
I guess I was nervous or something, so embarrassing!"

Mary Kate Champagne, of Plattsburg, New York, capped off her senior year at Seton Catholic High School a Footlocker Finalist and two-time All-American in the 2 mile.  Mary Kate looked for continued success at distance powerhouse Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island this year. 

Dyestat catches up with Mary Kate having just completed her freshman year at Providence to find out how the transition from competing in New York high school to the Big East Conference went. 

How are you? Are you happy at Providence and with the program?

The Providence program has so much history.  I am very confident in the training that Ray gives us especially because I have seen it work for so many other great athletes.  My coach is able to meet the needs of all of his individual athletes while at the same time following a specific program as a team.  I am currently rebounding off of a stress fracture in my shin.  Two weeks ago I started running again after taking over two months off. Running again is so awesome; I have missed it so much. 

  Mary Kate Champagne charges to 3rd place at the 2007
  Foot Locker Northeast Regional - Photo by PhotoRun

Complete this sentence: My freshman year was...

...a learning experience. 

What are your goals and have they changed after one year of college? Where do you see the Providence program taking you?

After one year of college, my goals are still a little hazy.  It would be absolutely amazing to be able to run after college.  I know that Ray is definitely the person to get me there.  He has done it so many times before.  During college, I would like to definitely be All-American and see my team win a national championship in cross-country. 

How rigorous is your college training versus high school training? What are the major differences and similarities?

College training is much more intense than high school.  The training runs are at a faster pace, the mileage is higher (mostly because of the doubles), and the workouts are much more difficult.  Having teammates that are at your level or better makes the workouts so much more beneficial.  In college, there is much less racing than there is in high school.  This allows the college runner to have longer periods of quality training.  

Academically, how hard did you find Providence? How hard is it to balance schoolwork with running? What was your favorite class? What are you planning on majoring in?

Providence is definitely harder than high school, but nothing unmanageable. The main difference between high school and college is the astronomical amount of reading that they give you.  I find schoolwork to be easier while running.  When I am on a break from running, I have zero time management skills. My favorite class was my literature class; my teacher always picked out the best books. I'm technically a Biology major, but will change to an English major this coming semester--the calculus was just not for me. 

Is there time to party at Providence? Are you even allowed to have a social life as a member of the track team? How do you balance your social life with academics and athletics?

My team is more concerned with running well than partying.  Going out every weekend may look fun or glamorous to the average college student, but as Division 1 athletes on a very competitive team, we must stay focused. Staying in when everyone else is going out is worth performing well on the track.  Half the time we are not even on campus during the weekends because we are away at a meet.  The majority of my friends are on the track team because they understand my lifestyle and are much more easy to relate to.  I have some friends that are on other sports teams and some that are not on any.  We do things that normal people do like going to the movies, going out to eat, shopping, or just hanging out.  

Do you go to football games or other Providence sporting events? What is your favorite on campus thing to do?

Actually, funny thing; Providence College does not have a football team.  Our school is big on basketball; the games are one of the biggest events for us.  

What is your typical Saturday night like?

My typical Saturday night is pretty basic.  My roommate Hannah and I are normally too tired if we have just come home from a meet to do much.  We will hang out with the team for a while, all go out to eat, or go see a movie and go to bed.  It is especially important for us to get our sleep before our Sunday long runs.  One night of bad sleep can and has led to sickness and is not worth it at all. 

What is your typical Monday night like?

Monday nights freshman year always consisted of me scrambling to get my lab report done! I try to be in bed by 10:30 on weeknights. 

If you could do it all over again, knowing what you know now, would you still choose Providence?

Yes, I definitely would choose Providence College again.  I am so comfortable in my environment and know that I will be looked after no matter what.  My team is like a family and my coaches have supported me through my success and the injury I am coming off of. 

What is your favorite food in the dining hall?

My favorite food in the dining hall is thanksgiving dinner.  

  Champagne leads the 2008 Reebok Boston Indoor Games Junior Mile before
  finishing 3rd in 4:55.57 -
Photo by John Nepolitan

What are Providence track athletes like? Are they different from other Providence students? Are they different from your high school teammates?

Providence track athletes are very driven and focused athletes, but are my best friends like my high school team.  Working hard with a group of people allows you to become so much closer with them because you feel both their struggles and their success.  I feel like I fit in because our team is such a small, tight-knit family, everyone is so welcoming. 

What is the team dynamic like?

I have heard of a lot of teams where the boys and girls team do not interact much at all.  We have the same coaches and do pretty much everything together.  I guess you could say we are our own little clique.  The small size of our team makes us that much closer. 

Providence is a distance powerhouse both in the Northeast and nationally. Was it intimidating as an incoming freshman? Was it easy to feel like "part of the team" or was the transition hard?

Yes, it was very intimidating as a freshman running for Providence.  The older girls, however, made us feel very welcomed and were easy to relate to.  They know what we have gone through because of their own experiences.  

The Providence head coach, Ray Treacy, is a Providence track/cross-country alumnus.  What is it like having a coach who was once in your shoes?

Ray is very easy to trust.  His multiple successes make it impossible not to trust his judgment.  He always has an answer for everything because he has been there.  His methods are tried and true and he is both realistic and optimistic.  

How much do you actually work with Coach Treacy? What is your relationship with him? Is it different than the coaching you had in high school?

Athletes on the cross-country team work very closely with coach Treacy.  Hannah Davidson (my roommate) and I drop into his office whenever we are bored because he will always talk to us if he has time.  He truly cares about his athletes.  Ray's coaching style is different from mine in high school, because my coach was my mother.  Living with my coach made my experience much different than most high school athletes.  

You finished in the top 100 at NCAA Cross Country Championships this year.  What was that experience like? How does this experience factor into your goals and expectations for next year?

It was an awesome feeling to finish in the top 100 at NCAAs.  I struggled with illness earlier in the season so it was great to be able to bounce back.  Prior to the race I told myself I wanted to be in the top 100.  NCAAs were a great experience, I feel so lucky to have such a dedicated team and anticipate going next year.  The course was nice, it reminded me of the Warwick Valley course from the New York State Meet I ran at in high school, grass and rolling hills.  The race was so overwhelming; there were so many people.  I did not even know where I was in the race the whole time.  Ten seconds is so many places at a meet like that.  We had hoped to finish a little bit higher than 13th (top ten), but we will be ready next year.  Next year we have a very young but promising team.  We are all so excited about it! 

What was the transition like from 5k to 6k in cross-country?

I barely felt it.  I will admit, when you do pass the 5k mark you are like, "Ughhh can't I just stop here?" But it is really not that much of a difference, I feel bad for the guys! 10k must be rough! 

Although you ran cross-country, indoor track, and outdoor track in high school, was there a major difference to running 3 seasons in college? What did you think about competing in the Big East conference?

I did not run three seasons in college.  Cross-country was the only season that I went all the way through.  It was my favorite and my most successful. Indoor track was cut short because of sleep issues and I completely red shirted outdoor.  Yes, the intensity was much different, having fewer races allowed for us to really push ourselves when we needed to.  We ran about six races in cross-country, compared to I do not even know how many in high school.  With two dual meets a week and an invite every Saturday, it is very easy to feel burnt out at the end of the season.  In college, you feel fresh and ready to go when it is most important.  Competing in the Big East is a humbling experience.  There are so many talented teams and individuals that are working just as hard as you. 

  Champagne competes for Providence this year
  Photo submitted, courtesy TrackShark.com
Did you live with your teammates or with non-track athletes this year?

I lived with my teammate Hannah.  She is pretty much my best friend and we spend most of our time together.  Our living situation was perfect, we had the same schedules and are both easily entertained (LOL cats).  Hannah and I are living together next year because we are probably the only people that can put up with one another's antics.  

What was the biggest shock about your freshman year?

The biggest shock was forgetting my uniform the first race we went to.  I guess I was nervous or something, so embarrassing! 

What was the biggest disappointment?

My biggest disappointment was not achieving the goals that I had set for myself in track.  I am staying positive about my injury though and getting ready for next year. 

What was the best part?

The best part of my year was the other freshman girls.  We all became very close and support each other through everything. 

What are you most looking forward to?

I am most looking forward to next year and the years to come with the New York girls.  Throughout high school we were all friends.  It is so great that we can all stay together in college.  

What is your favorite college meet?

My favorite college meets were Big East and Regionals because they were at Van Cortlandt Park in New York City.  Being able to run on my favorite course from high school was great and I felt at home.  I always feel good there. 

What do you miss most about high school?

I miss my old teammates and of course my mom being my coach.  I miss the much more relaxed feeling of it all. 

What are your summer plans?

Getting back into shape is my first priority.  I have been slowly re-introducing running with some cross training.  I am also working at a few running camps and babysitting here and there.  My boyfriend lives on Long Island so my time is split between here and there. 


High School:

10:25 Two Mile; 4:55 Mile; 4:34 1500m; 17:44 at Van Cortlandt Park

Notable High School Achievements: Two-Time All-American 2 Mile;  3-time Cross Country State Champion; 3-time Track State Champion; Footlocker Finalist. 


College freshman stats: 4:53 mile

Notable college freshman achievements: 11th at NCAA Cross Country Northeast Regionals; 99th at NCAA Cross Country Nationals

Photos: headshot - friars.com; FLNE, PhotoRun; Reebok BIG, John Nepolutan; Providence photo, TrackShark.com