Everyday Champion -- Sylvia Veal
April 21, 2009
Corvallis, Ore. -
Student-athletes are really busy. They have class, practice, events and all the other responsibilities that 18-22 year-old students face everyday. Blah, blah, blah, right? Well, meet junior distance runner Sylvia Veal, she's pretty much got everybody beat, and not just on the course.
You see, Veal is one of the best runners on the team, owns over a 3.7 cumulative GPA in English and is a member of Bella Voce -- OSU's women's choir.
'I have been able to stay on top of things because I'm pretty low key,' Veal said. 'I don't let things stress me out too much. I take it one thing at a time. Last week was pretty stressful because we just came back from UC Davis, I had choir rehearsals Monday and Tuesday, and the concert on Wednesday -- on top of that, I had a huge project due. If you just take each thing right when it comes and manage your time, it tends to work out.'
Veal exudes confidence and it's no surprise that her athletic goal is to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Trials. She understands where she is physically and her aim is to continue to improve, which has led her and head coach Kelly Sullivan to come up with an interesting course this season; she's running unattached, meaning she's part of the team, but when she competes she does so as a non-counting member of OSU.'
'I'm redshirting this season because I got injured this winter and I am progressively getting better each year,' Veal said of her decision. 'I have goals to run post-collegiately, so I wanted to give myself another year to continue training and possibly qualify for the NCAA Championships at the end of my fifth year.'
Oh, and on top of all of that, her teammates elected her a co-team captain, which more often than not is dedicated to seniors.
'I really enjoy being a team captain,' Veal said. 'I love being involved with all the women. I came to Oregon State initially thinking I was going to go into teaching because I really like that type of atmosphere; talking to people, helping people and being a mentor. This is definitely an honor being in this position and having younger women looking up to me.'
Veal certainly qualifies as a role model and is a perfect example of what OSU's everyday champions program is all about.
Read more about Sylvia....
Q. What drew you to OSU?
A. What brought me to Oregon State was it was really familiar and it was close to home. It was the only competitive Division I school that offered me the opportunity to run for them. Otherwise I was thinking about the University of Oregon if I wasn't going to participate in a sport.
Q. Do you have any family that attended OSU?
A. My sister went to OSU for four years during her undergrad. She actually worked in the athletic department as an athletic trainer.
Q. Is there anything that surprised you about OSU?
A. I didn't know what to expect out of college, I had only visited my sister two or three times. I went to a football game and that was pretty exciting, but other than that, college was completely new to me.
Q. Describe what it is like running for coach Kelly Sullivan.
A. Running for Kelly Sullivan is a lot of fun. He is always energetic, always optimistic and positive. If you are having a bad day it is always nice to be able to talk to him. With running, it is a hard sport anyway, so it is nice to have someone there keeping you positive and motivated.
Q. What keeps you focused while you are running without having a coach out there with you?
A. What keeps me focused is the hard work I have put in. We have had numerous practices where we run twice a day and have hard workouts. When you are actually competing in a race, you remember all of the hard work you put into it and you don't want to give anything less than your best after working that hard.
Q. What got you started with running?
A. In high school my main focus for the first three years was basketball. I started playing basketball in fourth grade and I competed all the way to high school. I started running because in middle school you have to run the mile and I had never run before. It was sixth grade, I didn't really know what running was except for I didn't like it. I'm pretty competitive so I went out there and ran a 6:18 mile as a sixth grader. I guess word got to the high school coach about it, so over the summer he was recruiting me really hard.
Q. Where does your competitive spirit come from?
A. My competitive spirit has always been with me. It probably has something to do with my sister because we are so close in age; she is 21 months older than I am. We both did sports and when I saw her, I wanted to do just as well as she did, or better. I feel like she is part of my drive.
Q. Since being at OSU, have you changed your mind about being a teacher?
A. Since being at college I decided I want to stick with the world of sports. I decided I want to go into coaching at a collegiate level and be the head distance coach at a big school. I love the competitive atmosphere. Being at a Division I program, especially at a Pac-10 school, I see how rewarding it is, how fun it is and how competitive it is being an athlete. I want to be able to give that same experience to other athletes.
Q. How serious are you about trying to make the 2012 Olympic team?
A. My goal is to qualify for the Olympic Trials. If I'm in that meet, who knows how fit I will be, but it is definitely a goal of mine.
Q. What do you like to do outside of running?
A. Outside of running I like to read and I write on occasion. I lay low a lot. Running takes up a lot of time, so I don't really have time for anything else.
Q. What type of writer are you?
A. I started writing short stories in sixth grade out of boredom over the summers. It turned into something I really enjoy and I have written short stories all throughout high school. I have only done a few since being at college since there isn't a lot of free time to do stuff like that.
Q. How did you get interested in choir?
A. I started singing in fourth grade and I did choir until my senior year in high school. In high school I was in an advanced choir group. We traveled to Chicago, Hawai'i and Seattle. That's where I really developed my singing. I would sing in talent shows in high school, I have sang for my friend's wedding and I sang at the talent show (The Other Side) here a couple times and that was a lot of fun. It has been something I have always enjoyed. My whole family loves music.
Q. Do you ever sing while you run?
A. I try to sing while I am running, but you can't really sing and run at the same time. Days that I don't have my IPOD, I'll still be hearing music in my head. Hayley (Oveson), Abby (Chesimet) and I were running over the summer on a 90-minute run. I had this song stuck in my head about 45 minutes into the run and it had a really nice beat to it, so gradually I started picking up the pace and running faster and faster, and the run became really dysfunctional. It was really funny because afterwards I told them what happened they just said `figures'.
Q. Where can you hear the OSU Women's Choir (Bella Voce) perform?
A. We have three performances a year. We had one in the fall and we sang at La Sells Stewart Center and we had a performance last week with all the choirs. They actually go on tour in May, but I won't be able to do that because of athletics.
Q. What has having a scholarship meant to you?
A. When I came to Oregon State, I only had books covered for my scholarship and the rest was financial aid, loans and grants. Each year my scholarship has gotten bigger. It has been really helpful so I don't have to pay back so many loans after college.