Sept. 30, 2013
RollTide.com caught up with each new member of the track and cross country team to find out more about them. Today, we feature Hilary Stafford, a freshman from London, Ontario. Where she was one of the top distance runners in Canada.
What are you looking forward to most about being a member of the team?
I'm excited for the team atmosphere. I didn't have as big of a team back home, so this is exciting, to be able to have a group of 13 other girls to run with in cross country and an even bigger group for track.
Why did you choose Alabama?
I loved everything about Alabama. I found little things I didn't like at other schools but couldn't find a single thing I didn't like about Alabama.
How did your family react to your college decision?
They were excited for me. They were going to support me no matter where I went. They loved it here, too.
When did you begin competing and why?
My freshman year of high school. I ran cross country throughout elementary school, so I did it in ninth grade. I realized I was good at it, so I stuck with it. I definitely love it.
When did you realize you could compete at the Division 1 level?
In my junior year, I started thinking about universities. I knew my times were good. I started sending out recruiting questionnaires, and I was getting responses.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
I finished third in junior nationals when I was 16, so that's definitely my best race. That's probably my proudest accomplishment, and also, of course, coming to Alabama ranks up there.
You finished third in your first collegiate race; what was that like?
That was pretty cool, as well, I must say. I didn't really know what to expect. I knew it was a smaller meet with just the two teams. It was really cool to see that I could stay up there with our top runners and hang in there, finish strong and win as a team. That was pretty awesome.
What has been the biggest adjustment you've had to make as a college athlete?
Time management. Practicing twice a day takes up some time. Just trying to fit everything--homework, sleeping and eating - in during the day is difficult. I'm definitely starting to get into a routine, though.
What goals do you have for this season?
As a team, it'd be cool to make it through SECs and maybe make it through regionals or even nationals if that's in the cards for this year. I'm mainly in it to help out the team and put Alabama on the map.
What is one weakness that you'd like to improve moving forward?
I just need to stay focused and not let outside things affect my running. I can't let others' thoughts affect my own. It's a team sport, but I need to focus on myself and my running.
Have you decided on a major?
I'm majoring in exercise and sport science.
What are your plans after college?
I'm not too sure. I can do physical therapy with my coursework, but I'm also going to take some nutrition classes to see if that's more of what I like. I'm not 100 percent sure, but I definitely would like to work in sports.
Is there any other athlete, either professional or collegiate, that inspires you?
Jessica Zelinka. She's a Canadian heptathlete. She's from the town I'm from. It's really cool to see her at the Olympics and doing so well. It makes me want to do the same.
Aside from track, what is your favorite sport?
I used to play volleyball. I still like to play volleyball recreationally.
Athletes have strict diet regimens, but if there is one food you cannot live without, what is it?
Peanut butter is my favorite thing ever.
What's on your iPod right now?
I'm really into "The Best Song Ever" by One Direction right now. I also really like a Canadian band called Hedley. I like mainstream stuff and whatever is on the radio.