Q&A: Abby Hamilton ’21 Opens Up About Her Experience as a First-Year Student Athlete at Bates

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In the midst of my third season as a runner for the women’s cross country team, I constantly find myself relishing in the fact that, since my first year at Bates, I have been surrounded by a group of supportive and strong individuals who have tremendously helped me adjust to the varying challenges of college life.

A fellow teammate of mine, Abby Hamilton ’21, from Yarmouth, Maine, is currently undergoing her first season as a collegiate runner. Although running used to be something that Abby “dreaded doing,” she has grown to love the sport and during her senior year of high school was “Maine’s Class B Cross Country State Champion,” with a personal record time of 18:05 over 5,000 meters. This year, she has consistently been either the third or fourth runner for Bates.

I had the opportunity to speak with Abby about how she is adjusting to Bates as both a runner and a student. This article has been edited for grammar and clarity.

Sarah Rothmann (SR): What drew you to Bates and how much of an impact did sports play into your decision?

Abby Hamilton (AH): I decided to come to Bates mostly because I knew that I would be really close to my family since Bates is only about 40 minutes away from our house. Obviously, Bates has very good academics and that was also very important to me. I remember being very intrigued by the small class sizes. I have had several friends come here as well and they have all really enjoyed their experience. Sports were not as important to me but I knew that Bates had a really strong cross country team because I had followed them for the past couple of years. Up until my senior year of high school, however, running was just an activity I did on the side. By my senior year, I completely switched my mindset and was like “I am just going to go all in and try my hardest.” It ended up being a really good season and I loved seeing all of my hard work finally pay off. From that point forward I just really fell in love with running and my team, so I knew that I wanted to continue running but it was not the deciding factor, regarding my decision to come to Bates.

SR: How have you found the transition from high school to college running?

AH: Throughout high school I always had the best captains. They taught me that life does not revolve solely around running and that it is important to step outside your comfort zone and meet new people. They just set a great example and I really hoped to do the same. By my senior year, I became one of the captains and I really wanted to make the sport fun. A huge goal of mine was to emphasize how we run because we enjoy it and love being a part of a team, not just to set personal records. I think that everything in running can be carried over into other parts of life as well. Now, college running is very different from high school but in the best way. The intensity of everything is higher but you are also surrounded by really great people. Everybody is so supportive and thoughtful, which makes working hard extremely rewarding and fun.

SR: Last Saturday, September 30, was your first travel experience with the team for the Saratoga Invitational in Saratoga, New York. What did you think of your first cross country road trip?

AH: The Saratoga Invitational was actually a definite highlight of my year so far! It is really amazing to have such a strong team that works well together. The Top 20 were rewarded pies and five of us were able to get pies, which was really fun and exciting. In high school, we did not really travel that much. Sometimes we went to New England’s and stayed overnight but other than that we did not travel at all. I think it is neat to be able to race in different areas across the country instead of races on the same courses all the time. Also, traveling allows you to bond with your team a little bit more which is really helpful and nice.

SR: Outside of running, how have you found the adjustment from high school to college?

AH: High school academics were definitely not as challenging. This year I am taking chemistry, calculus, psychology, and my first-year seminar, “Family Stories.” They are definitely hard but they are also all classes that I am interested in and look forward to everyday. While in college I have found that you have to spend more time analyzing the readings and problems, there is more help that is provided. I have definitely used all of the resources, like the ARC, that are available. I thought being away from home was going to be a little harder, considering how close I am with my family, but just being surrounding by such a friendly and welcoming crowd of people has made my adjustment very manageable.

SR: What are some of your favorite parts of the Bates campus?

AH: I really like studying in PGill. It is really quiet, a good temperature, and I like the waterfall noises in the background. It is also right in the middle of campus so you are close to everything! One goal of mine for this year is to a little check out third floor of the library. I have always been curious but too afraid of making too much noise! The vegan bar at Commons is another one of my go-to spots on campus (laughs).

SR: I know that it is still early, but what are you thinking about studying?

AH: Science has always been a subject that fascinates me so I am thinking about majoring in Biology. In high school I was part of a global action club and am thinking about eventually going into pharmacy.

SR: If you could give advice to an incoming first-year class of students, what would you say to them?

AH: I think the most important piece of advice that I could give is not to be afraid to ask for help. As my first-year seminar professor would say, “Don’t hide!” There are so many resources available to you when you need help and I have found that once I took the first step and started using them, it became much easier to constantly take advantage of the help for all of my other courses.

Be sure to watch Abby, as well as the other members of the women’s cross country team, compete at their Maine State Championship at Bowdoin this Saturday, October 14.

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