Players & Game Changers are the athletes who inspire Playa Society and our community of daring women. Here, we will share their stories and celebrate their strength.
Catrina McAlister has the Courage to Chase Big Dreams
In her own words, Catrina talks about how she came to be a runner, and how she's preparing to compete in the 2020 Olympic trials:
As a Freshman in High School, soccer was 'my thing' and I really had envisioned myself to one day be a soccer player - a world cup, USA Women's Soccer player. But, there was something specific about soccer that I just couldn't get enough of, and it wasn't until my first track meet that I realized I actually loved to run. Running was what had kept my love for soccer alive for over 9 years.
By my junior year of high-school I had become one of the best distance runners (track and cross-country) in the nation, but it hadn't been an easy journey. There was a part of me that knew I was going to be a runner; I was meant to be a runner.
Running had become my life and my future - I was winning races, getting college letters to countless schools and getting invited to races and running camps all around the country. When I quit soccer, I focused my goals on becoming better - just a little, then a little more, until I surpassed my own expectations. But, it didn't happen over night.
THE BOYS' TEAM GOT TO GO ON LONG RUNS, DO HARD WORKOUTS, AND TRAVEL TO RACES. THEY WERE PUSHED. I WAS STUCK IN THE PARK [WITH THE GIRLS' TEAM] TO MAKE FLOWER NECKLACES OR GO ON A 'JOG'. WHILE WE WOULD STRETCH IN THE PARK, LAUGH, AND TROT A FEW LAPS, I FELT I COULD DO MORE.
When my mom suggested I go run with the boys' team, I thought she was crazy. A year later, when I was running in the front pack, surrounded by the varsity boys' team (a soon to be State and National Champion Team) every one else thought I was crazy too. The girls on the team took to bullying me, my principal told me it was against the law, and the Superintendent advised me that I was a girl and "girls can't run the way boys do because their hips are too weak."
Unfortunately, I was eventually kicked off the team because I refused to go to the girls' practices. It didn't seem right to me that the boys' team was allowed to run and work hard, but the girls were cautioned and confined. By then I was on my way to college, I had broken countless records, and was ready to start a new journey. They couldn't hold me back.
When I signed a scholarship to run for The University of Colorado at Boulder, I couldn't have been more thrilled. It was, and still is, one of the the best cross-country teams in the nation, and has produced more Olympic track athletes than any other school. But, as I journeyed through my years and seasons, I became plagued with an unforgiving series of injuries. My days became dark and I started to doubt myself. I graduated with an open mind to continue my passion, and seek big goals.
I have since then moved back to California where I have found an amazing group of people that have continued to support my dreams and ambitions. I am stronger than ever, having seen the good and bad that make up this journey called life. Through it all, I have and continue to meet amazing people and experience unforgettable adventures.
The Olympic trials are set to be in Southern California in 2020 and I plan to be there. And while this goal seems a little scary, and a little out of reach right now, I know that I can do anything I put my mind to. If your dreams don't scare you a little, then what's the point? I haven't come this far, only to come this far.