Hoekstra runs new distances for senior year


Senior Hoekstra makes transition from soccer to cross-country

Diana Levy, Sports Writer

In running there is a term called the “wall;” it refers to the place that runners reach during
their workout that can prevent them from pushing harder. However, one international athlete is
trying to transition from women’s soccer to cross country and prove to herself – and her team –
that she is capable of breaking down that wall.
Rebeccah Hoekstra, senior graphic design major and Ontario, Canada native, is using her last
year of NCAA eligibility to run for the university’s women’s cross country team after playing
soccer for the past four years. According to Hoekstra, she is learning how to push herself from within and play a sport that
is more individual than team-based. “In cross country, you depend on yourself, but in soccer you are in constant interaction with
your teammates,” she said.
The women’s cross country team began their season’s training with a timed-two mile, in
which Hoekstra ran a 13:49, which placed her second on the team.
“I always knew I was a pretty athletic soccer player, so I thought I could handle cross
country,” she said. Hoekstra ran a 12:24 two-mile for a team time trial during her junior year on the soccer team
and said she hopes to be able to run that time again by the end of the season.
Workout days with the cross country team can be challenging, but Hoekstra said she tells
herself that she “has nothing to lose.” “It’s my last season competing as a collegiate athlete so I might as well give it my all,” she said.
Years of training for soccer, Hoekstra explained, taught her how to endure the pain and work
through the tiredness.
Being sore or tired is one problem, but being mentally weak can truly make or break a
runner.  A racing mindset is a crucial part of cross country training, and Hoekstra said she is
working on that as a runner.
“As long as I keep up with the guys who are ahead of me, I can push myself,” she said.  “I am learning how to think more like a runner.”
Women’s Cross Country coach Mark Bluman said he is excited to have Hoekstra on the team
this year. “She brings great competiveness and desire to the team,” Bluman said.
Hoekstra said she was determined to become a competitive runner, and in the spring, she told Bluman she was going to start the summer training plan early.
Along with her physical capabilities, Hoekstra is also strong mentally and is able to push
herself through workouts due to her competitive desires. “It can be pretty painful and exhausting at moments but your body isn’t going to quit unless you tell yourself to,” she said. Anyone who has watched Hoekstra play soccer during her four-year career at the university
can see that she is a determined athlete.
Hoekstra was a freshman starter and began her career on the team as a defender and then
played center back her junior and senior years.  She was named Most Valuable Player at the end
of her senior season.
During her time training with the women’s soccer team, Hoekstra was able to train hard and remain in excellent shape. Women’s Soccer Coach Frank Pitt said Hoekstra’s athletic ability will help her transition into cross county easily. “During the one or two fitness tests we did last year, she was sprinting the entire time,” Pitt said.  “She didn’t need to stop.” The women’s cross country team will begin their season on Sept. 13 at Costal Carolina University.  Hoekstra said she hopes to begin with a time of 21 minutes or faster for the five kilometer race.