The cafe was bustling with life on a cool fall day when she walked in. While her stature may seem small and repressed, her presence is one that demands to be felt. She is Haley Lawrence, a third-year marketing student who is making great strides on the cross country team this year.
When thinking about running, most people have a lackadaisical attitude, but not Lawrence.
“At first I just kinda did it to do something, I knew I wasn’t that good at other sports. I tried basketball in fifth grade and that wasn’t very good,” she says.
Making the switch to running, Lawrence finally found her pack. In high school she was the only one in her grade to do all three running sports offered all four years — outdoor track, indoor track and cross country. Eventually she would go on to win Eastern Maine and place fourth overall at state her senior year. Lawrence attributes those wins in part to her best friend growing up— her mom.
“She always taught me to stick with what I love. She doesn’t know much about running, I try and tell her… but yeah she really gets how much I love it,” Lawrence said as tears well in her eyes.
Her and her mother have always had a tight bond. One of three children, Lawrence’s mother gave birth to her when she was only 19 years old.
“My mom was always my best friend. Because she’s younger, it makes it easier to relate to her. She’s just like me, she’s kinda shy but outgoing at the same time,” Lawrence said.
But don’t let her fool you. Lawrence is incredibly outgoing, going as far as to earn herself the nickname “Sunshine” from her teammates, who say she brightens up the room.
Now an upperclassman, Lawrence is beginning her transition into taking on more of a leadership role.
“As an upperclassman it’s important for me to teach the younger girls like everything they need to know,” Lawrence said.
Along with team leader, Lawrence fills the role of team cheerleader as well.
“I’m really into getting people pumped up for meets because it’s important for us to go out there and try our best even if we know we’re not the best team in our conference, we still have a lot of talent and it’s important to show that.”
On meet days, the girls have a bit of a tradition.
“We play music in the locker room and sometimes get little bows in our hair just to feel more unified.”
Cross country has had a profound impact on Lawrence.
“One of the main reasons I wanted to go to college was to be a college athlete.”
Realizing that dream, Lawrence does two collegiate sports. She is also the first of her immediate family to go to college — something she doesn’t take lightly. Carrying the torch for her family, she uses that fact as inspiration to do well in school.
“It really gives me more motivation to complete college,” Lawrence says.
As a junior, Lawrence is majoring in marketing with a dream job of working for Nike’s marketing department.
On handling the pressures of being a student athlete, Lawrence recognizes the help running has had.
“For me it’s like brushing my teeth every morning. Without it I don’t know what else I’d do because it’s just such a day to day thing for me”.
It doesn’t hurt that she has been running since the sixth grade, making the pressure just a bit less.
“If I wasn’t on a team I don’t know what I would do. More specially racing every weekend is very important to me because I do it every weekend.”
Lawrence runs typically 50 miles per week, but shortens her mileage during the track season. With such a noteworthy running career Lawrence had many memories to talk about, but her favorite was something that happened in sixth grade.
“I used to lose my shoe a lot. I remember one race in middle school where I lost my shoe and I ended up second to last. I grabbed the shoe and put it back on and ended up beating 50 people,” she said, laughing.
On Sept. 15, Lawrence placed first overall in a meet against the University of New Hampshire with a time of 19:09.
Just five days later on Sept. 20, she was announced to be the America East Performer of the Week. Lawrence and the rest of the Black Bear cross country team will race Saturday, Oct. 7 at the New England Championships.