MINNEAPOLIS – A 2017 graduate of Willmar High School, Sophie Schmitz joins the Gopher women's cross country and track & field teams as a seven-time letterwinner in cross country and track & field for the Cardinals.
Schmitz has already raced unattached at two collegiate 6K races this fall, placing 21st at the Oz Memorial in 23:41.6 and 140th at the Roy Griak Invitatioinal in 24:53.8. Schmitz reflects on how she began running, transitioning from high school to college, and more.
Gopher Sports: How did you get into running?
Sophie Schmitz: Actually, way back in sixth grade, my sister and I tried to go to a cross country practice, and I really liked it. She didn’t, but I really liked seeing all the people there. I had some friends there, and the coach was really motivating. I kind-of told myself this is what I wanted to do, so I’ve got to start somewhere.
GS: Did you play any other sports growing up?
SS: I was in basketball up until my freshman year of high school, and then that was it.
GS: What was it about running that drew you in?
SS: I think I really liked how I could focus on myself, and it was a lot of me time when I was running. But, then again, it’s so team-oriented, and there are so many aspects to the team. You can’t really find any other sport like it.
GS: Do you consider yourself more of a cross country or a track runner?
SS: That’s hard. I want to say both, but I enjoy cross country more, solely for that team aspect. There’s a little more sense of accomplishment when you’re done racing a 5K or a 6K rather than a 400m, not that it’s not still awesome, but the work that you put in is a little more strenuous.
GS: How did you choose the University of Minnesota?
SS: I’ve always wanted to be a part of this team.
GS: Did you grow up a Gopher fan?
SS: Not necessarily, I was never really into college sports. As soon as I knew that it was a possibility where I would be able to search for a school, I think this school popped into my mind first. I decided it was my "mountain top goal," and then as I crept closer to it, I realized that I could reach that goal.
GS: When did you realize that it was a possibility?
SS: Probably my senior year, like the beginning of my senior cross country season. You know, looking at other schools, you have to look at all the aspects with academics, and being close to home. I was comfortable enough with it, but also it’s far enough from home and it's a big enough change where I have things that I’m used to and things that I’m not used to.
GS: What are you leaning towards for a major?
SS: Physiology. I love science. I love the human body. I think there’s a big sense of discovery with it too, the human body, which I’m really intrigued by. I’m still figuring out what career I want to go into.
GS: What do you think is going to be the biggest change for you, coming from a small town to a big city?
SS: Probably just the size change with the people and the streets and the buildings, and even the days. There’s more to do and more opportunities and things to discover. Everything’s just bigger.
GS: Do you consider yourself more of a country girl, a city girl, or somewhere in between?
SS: I’m kind of both. As I was growing up, you know, my best friend has horses so I kind of grew up with her on the farm. I lived in the middle of corn fields. I like country music. But, at the same time, when I’m in the city, I don’t feel out of place at all.
GS: What are you most excited about for your first year here?
SS: I’m just excited to begin, to see what I can do and what this team can do, and to be a part of it, especially because we keep saying this team is so special this year, and it’s obvious. Just to be a part of it is exciting. It’s so fun, and no matter what kind of part I'll have in it, that will be another fun thing to discover, but just to even be here is cool enough.
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