I’ll let you in on a little secret: I was not a highly-recruited high school athlete.
The recruiting landscape looked completely different in my day. There wasn’t social media (that was back when you needed a college email address to join Facebook and Twitter wasn’t even a thing!) and I didn’t realize that running in college was even an option until my junior year of high school. So when the time came to make my college decision, running wasn’t a major deciding factor.
I had some letters from smaller collegiate programs, mostly Division II and Division III. I did get to go on an official visit to Virginia Tech but I really didn’t know what I was looking for in a program. Afterwards, I went on a regular campus tour at the University of Virginia (UVA). The moment I stepped foot on Grounds (that’s what we call our campus), I knew I was home.
It was fate that the Virginia cross-country coach had sent me a few letters leading into that campus tour; I met with him while in town and he said I could have a spot on the team if I could get into school on my own. There was no scholarship offer, just the opportunity to earn one if I was good enough. I was a “recruited walk-on” to a Division I program.
My freshman year I qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championship in the steeple and was given a small scholarship. My second year, I won the ACC Conference meet in the steeple, returned to the NCAA Champs and was given a full scholarship.