By Angelica Melara
At SUNY Plattsburgh, it’s not often an athlete switches the sport they play midway through college. But Aislyn McDonough is a former soccer player, who in her second year of college, found herself interested in cross country.
McDonough, who is a junior childhood and special education major, started her SUNY Plattsburgh career on the soccer team., but in her sophomore year of college, she decided to start cross country.
“I definitely had a love for soccer, but I knew track and field was my life,” McDonough said.“I quit soccer to join the cross team in hopes of bettering my track and field season which worked in my favor.”
Not only is McDonough on the cross country team, but she is also the women’s cross country/track and Field representative, and the secretary for the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. Some clubs that she is a part of include Active Minds, the Literacy Club and the Council for Exceptional Children.
“Aislyn is a committed and hard-working student-athlete,” head cross country coach, Andrew Krug said. “She is an easy going young woman who knows when to have fun and knows when to get to business.”
McDonough’s reasoning for joining cross country was to better herself in track and field. According to Krug, her willingness to join cross country is what makes her stand out as an athlete because she was willing to step out of her comfort zone and has done well.
“Her ability to listen, trust, and follow the training plan also makes her stand out as an athlete,” Krug said.
“At McDonough’s first 800, she looked like she was running out of gas by the time she got to the final lap, but she found another gear and sprinted that last lap,” Krug said.
This was the moment the coaches knew there was potential with her. With the proper training, she was able to figure out her race strategy. She won the 800m at a meet at SNHU.
The cross country team is allowed to have practices Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. When it comes to sports, McDonough was altered because of COVID.
“I have never gone through a semester of college without playing a sport, so the transition to fully online last spring was very difficult for me,” McDonough said. “Not being with my team every day or traveling every weekend was a strange and unfamiliar time that I hope we never have to go through again.”
Academic-wise, McDonough went from having a semester that was supposed to be a hands-on experience in elementary schools two to three times per week with a classroom full of children to one student that she virtually tutors online. Along with this big change, McDonough said that another challenge came from her classes being switched online.
McDonough mentioned that the NCAA has given athletes their eligibility back for seasons that were canceled, which has become another factor that changed her academic path.
“I have pushed my graduation date back in hopes of competing for longer,” McDonough said. “This pandemic has made me take a step back and realize how lucky I am to be a part of such great programs and to never take it for granted again.”
Krug hopes to see McDonough continue to make an impact on the team’s culture and become a teacher and leader in a school district in the coming years. This is what McDonough hopes to accomplish. When she graduates, she hopes to teach in an inclusive classroom somewhere in New England and possibly coach for the school as well.