Madalyn Higgins starts her day as the sun rises. Her alarm goes off at 6:15 and she throws on her singlet, shorts, and running shoes before she heads to the athletics complex for cross country practice.
Higgins is now a rising star on Acadia’s Cross Country and Track & Field teams. Her recent performance at Point Pleasant Park as an Axewoman contributed to the team winning the meet, a notable first in recent history.
“In high school I played every single sport our school had to offer,” she said. “We never had a cross country team in high school, soccer was my favourite, but I wasn’t cut out for soccer. I wanted to do some varsity sport and I was too short for all the others.”
She’s always loved being active, playing the second-highest competitive level soccer available during the off-season.
“I was called the ‘Energizer Bunny’ on my soccer team because I kept running circles around everybody, so I guess that’s what led me here.”
Cross country and track & field were the logical choices. At Acadia the all-women team runs cross country, races over 5km long over hills and through mud, in the fall semester and indoor track in the winter semester. Indoor track and field is characterized by the smaller two-hundred metre track.
Higgins says that the team keeps her together. Her response is one shared by many varsity athletes, who find solace and a strong bond on their team. She notes that she never would have met her best friend Kelsey Crouse, another rising star at Acadia, had she not joined cross country. Because the athletes spend so many hours training and travelling together, she has developed very strong bonds with her teammates.
“School is a lot, and I think if I was just doing school would be very extra stressed. Running is a good way to be free and forget about that. In all the other sports I played I was always the person that ran a lot.”
Her goal is to go to U Sports National Championships in Victoria, BC. Acadia selects runners based on if they have ranked in the top fourteen within regional AUS standings. So far Higgins is within that threshold, and has to maintain that ranking until November.
Though the team is becoming more successful, it faces hurdles at home.
“We still don’t have a lock on our changing room door,” she laughs. “Someone had shampoo stolen. Not the bottle, just the shampoo.”
Her faith in the team is continuing to grow. She believes it is possible for Acadia to win at AUS within the next few years. With a strong team, solid coaching, and dedicated recruits, she says, Acadia could become a destination for aspiring female runners. Coach Ralph Williams has made it possible through a rigorous schedule that includes 9 practices a week, pushing athletes to their limits.
Acadia is hosting AUS Championships on October 28th at Hennigar’s Farm Market.