Brittany Tate's Long Road to Lawrence
Sept. 23, 2011
It’s been two years since sophomore Brittany Tate last ran competitively but it hasn’t taken her long to get back into the groove.
The Lee’s Summit, Mo., native has had a long and interesting road to Lawrence, but she has finally made it and she’s already making an impression. Jayhawk nation won’t like hearing this, but out of high school she originally signed to run track/cross country at the University of Missouri. However, Lawrence can rest easy because as it turns out, Tate never made it to Columbia.
“When I signed out of high school, I originally signed with Mizzou,” Tate said. “That’s where I was going to run, but I called that off because the people I was going there to be around weren’t going to be a good influence, and I was sick of running.”
Few can blame Tate for wanting to stay close to home and run at an in-state Division I university. One would think growing up just two hours away from Columbia she would naturally be a Tiger fan, but the decision to leave Missouri turned out not to be all that tough. For that, we can thank her parents.
“I didn’t grow up a Missouri fan because both of my parents are from Indiana, so I was an Indiana Hoosiers fan,” she said. “I would have loved to go there (Indiana), but they didn’t want me.”
Even growing up in a school district that is majority Mizzou fans, you would think she would be persuaded or pressured into joining the Tiger faithful. Again, not the case.
“There are maybe four kids from my high school that go to KU,” Tate said. “At least 80 percent of my class went to Missouri and a lot of them are in sports, so I do receive a lot of grief.”
Many athletes participate in multiple sports throughout their high school career and they get burnt out. Turns out, that happened to Tate after she graduated from high school and turned down a scholarship to run at Missouri.
She decided to take her talents to Warrensburg, Mo., located just 35 miles from suburban Kansas City and enrolled at the University of Central Missouri.
“Once I decided not to run I think it would have been weird to still go to Missouri,” she explained.
“I didn’t run at Central Missouri because I was sick of running,” she explained.
It was in middle school when Tate began running competitively. The high school cross country/track & field coach encouraged her to try it. She might have also gotten a little help from her mom – and a bribe.
“My mom pretty much bribed me to do it because I was never going to run,” she said. “She bribed me with an iPod. That was when they first came out and there wasn’t any color on the screen, so naturally I was all for it. I found out I was pretty good at it (running) and it came easier than the other sports I was playing. I’ve stuck with it even though sometimes I question why.”
Her mom and Lee’s Summit West High School coach, Amy Wiseman have had a huge influence on Brittany’s running career that go beyond an iPod.
“Coach Wiseman was a huge inspiration,” Tate said. “She made running seem more like a gutsy sport rather than being out there with no goals to score. It was different for me because I was the soccer, basketball type.”
“My mom also, in terms of providing stuff for me like if I’m going to commit to the sport then she will help with the little things like buy me groceries and get me massages.”
After spending two years taking classes at Central Missouri Tate started getting that itch to run. It was time for her to relocate and begin her running career once again. She admits the thought of transferring somewhere warm, so she could get away from the snow, crossed her mind.
Another reason she wanted to leave Warrensburg was that she didn’t like the atmosphere of the small town. She needed something bigger where there was actual ‘life’ going on. Her first couple of months in Lawrence have turned out to be quite all right.
“I love it,” she exclaimed. “I chose Lawrence because it is far enough away from home, but not too far. I missed the challenges (of running). A huge part was missing the teammate atmosphere, having that solid family foundation all the time.”
Tate entered the 2011 cross country season with an open mind and the goals to compete and get better. For someone who has been absent from the running scene for the last two years it sure doesn’t seem like she’s missed a whole lot.
“I want to compete and move up,” she said. “I want to improve because I took the last two years off after high school so I’m just getting back into shape.”
Like most athletes, Tate anticipates her hard work paying off because she hopes to be one of the top runners on the team. Right now, she believes her role is to be a motivator and doing whatever it takes to help the team.
“I see myself doing my part to stay with the pack because we are about pack running,” she said. “We might have multiple packs and I might not be in the front pack, but at some point I hope to be in the range of the top seven.”
The Kansas cross country team has already taken part in two meets this season and Tate has helped the team to a second-place finish at the Bob Timmons Classic and a first-place finish at the Missouri Cross Country Challenge two weeks ago. Beating that particular team in Columbia, Mo., felt pretty good she said. She placed eighth and 16th, respectively, in her first two collegiate races.
“I want it to be like I never missed a beat,” she said.