Q&A with Junior Student-Athlete Samantha Friedman
A little about Samantha Friedman
Anybody who has ever run track knows there is really no off-season. For Case Western Reserve University sprinters like junior Samantha Friedman, official practices begin in early-October and sometimes stretch into May. Once the team “breaks” for the year, it becomes time for those individual student-athletes to begin summer conditioning to stay on target for another season of competition.
The constant preparation, compounded with a tough academic schedule and other extra-curricular activities, can get to be overwhelming at times. But, Friedman says she can’t imagine her life without track. In addition to competing in a variety of short-distance events for the Spartans, the Beachwood, Ohio native also stays busy with her involvement in Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and provides an important service to her fellow student-athletes with her work as an athletic training assistant.
A local product, Friedman made Case Western Reserve a higher priority in order to stay closer to home and be a part of a successful track program. Her mother, Amy Ross Friedman, also works for CWRU as its Director of Continuing Medical Education. With just one year left of undergraduate work, Friedman is focused on finishing up her degree in nutrition with a minor in sports medicine, before following through with a plan to pursue a Doctorate in Physical Therapy.
In this edition of Spartan Spotlight, Samantha sat down for a little Q&A to talk a bit more about the rigors of running collegiate track, as well as her experience at CWRU and plans for the future.
What sports/activities did you participate in high school? When did you start running track, and do you remember why you decided to start?
In high school I ran cross country, played basketball and ran track. I started running track as a freshman in high school. I had planned on running high school track since I was in the fifth grade because my dad also ran at Beachwood.
What intrigues you about physical therapy, or why have you decided that’s the career path you want to take? What type of physical therapy do you want to do?
I have decided to pursue a career in physical therapy based on my personal experiences. I have been to several different physical therapists for knee pain. I have had knee problems since my freshman year in high school and, because of the experience I have gained working with different therapists, it has sparked an interest for me. I love sports and working with people, so I figure it will be a good career for me to pursue. I am not exactly sure what type of physical therapy, but it will probably have to do with pediatrics.
What is your work like as an athletic trainer?
We have to complete 45 hours of clinicals and work at least five sporting events per semester. During our time in the training room, we tape ankles and get water, but we are also working with the athletes in rehabbing injuries.
Talk about your training and preparation for being a sprinter. What are the main areas of training and what type of mindset do you have to have to be a successful short-distance runner?
We practice for at least two hours every day and lift about three times per week. Practices are pretty tough, and, in reality, the season never really ends. Once we finish official practice it is time to start training and improving for the next year. You have to be very focused on your goals and what you need to accomplish. Each practice is different and targets different areas of sprinting. Certain days are technical and other days are long speed days. On technical days, we focus on sprinting technique and improving running mechanics. On long speed days, we apply those techniques and focus on pushing ourselves as far as we can. You need to be strong and have a confident mindset to power through the pain or fatigue you may be feeling.
Do you ever have days where you feel overwhelmed or wish you had decided not to run in college, or do you find that being a student-athlete helps you balance your time better?
There are times when I do feel overwhelmed and wish I wasn’t running, but then I try to think what it would be like without track and I really can't imagine it. I do think it helps me balance my time better. With track, my free time is very limited and I need to make sure that I am getting all of my work done within the time constraints that I have.
What would you say your role on the track team is at this point in your career? As a junior, do you find yourself becoming more of a leader?
I think that as a junior on the team it is important for me to be a leader to my younger teammates and try to be an example to them as well. It is important for me to act appropriately so others can follow in my footsteps. Because there weren’t any senior sprinters this year, I did find myself becoming more of a leader at practice by leading drills and stretches and helping others who weren’t sure what to do.
What’s the best thing about being a student-athlete at CWRU?
The best thing about being a student-athlete is the connection you make with CWRU. I feel like the student-athletes here have a different connection with the school. We are traveling to different schools and at those schools we are representing the university. Those schools get a feel for CWRU based on our student-athletes.
Note: “Spartan Spotlight” is a bi-weekly to monthly series that highlights a Case Western Reserve University student-athlete and his/her exploits on and off the playing field. The series is meant to provide an inside look at the unique backgrounds of Spartan student-athletes and show what it takes to succeed athletically and academically at one of the nation’s premier research institutions.