Sagehen running legend Alicia Freese PO ’10 recently added another honor to her already impressive collection, as she was named one of 30 nominees for the 2010 NCAA Woman of the Year.
Ten women from each of the NCAA’s three divisions were selected out of more than 450 nominees for outstanding achievement in athletic competition, academics, and community leadership.Freese will join the other nominees in Indianapolis for the awards ceremony Oct. 17.
Throughout her decorated career as a distance runner, Freese has always been skeptical of receiving formal recognition. “It’s really silly,” Freese said after learning of the nomination. “I never wanted running to completely define me, but maybe it has.” It is certainly hard to ignore her numerous All American honors, her domination of the program’s records, and this most recent nomination.
Freese will arrive late to the festivities, as she will be coaching the P-P women at their first SCIAC competition that morning. This semester, Freese is standing in as head coach for Kirk Reynolds, who is on sabbatical.
For an international relations major who has worked with non-profits toward nuclear non-proliferation, coaching cross country at her alma mater was by no means an obvious choice for Freese’s first year out of college. But as a Sagehen, Freese always put the team first, and running has always been an integral part of her life. She spent one summer during college working to start a running program at an orphanage in Tanzania. When Reynolds offered her the job for the fall, she gladly accepted.
Freese said that cross-country was the most important part of her college experience, and it seems that with her new job, not much has changed. “The best moment of my running career was making it to Nationals as a team, and [practicing each afternoon at] 4:15 was the highlight of my day. It still is.”
While other nominees are headed for Olympic teams and professional careers,Freese is focusing on coaching her teammates from last year. But the Sagehen legend still wants—and plans—to race in the future. As the season progresses she will further contemplate her post-college running career.
“I’m not going to win,” Alicia said of the award.But running for Alicia clearly isn’t defined by NCAA awards and school records, but rather by the value running and its community have added, and continue to add, to her life.