Q and A with Alyse Shayer
Former Stockdale cross country and track standout now running at South Carolina remains positive as she battles bad injuries
Batch Data Processor | Monday, Sep 3 2007 9:40 PM
Last Updated: Monday, Sep 3 2007 9:46 PM
Alyse Shayer lettered in cross country and track each year at Stockdale High School. She advanced to the state cross country meet as a freshman and qualified for the state track meet all four years, the 4x400 relay she was a member of finishing sixth in her freshman campaign.
Photo by Jason Ayer / Special to the Californian
Former Stockdale cross country and track standout Alyse Shayer runs for South Carolina at a cross country meet in the fall of 2005.
Recruited to the University of South Carolina, Shayer had high expections. But Shayer has been slowed by injuries.
Shayer said the change from the harder running surfaces of cross country courses in California to the grass courses in the southeast, and the resultant change in footwear, might be the primary factor contributing to her shin splints.
After competing as a freshman for the Gamecocks cross country team, Shayer red-shirted her freshman season of indoor track, then red-shirted her sophomore season of outdoor track. Now, she'll likely be red-shirting her junior cross country season, due to a broken toe suffered in a beach soccer game this summer.
During her freshman outdoor track season, Shayer competed in the 800 meters. Her best showing was a third-place finish at the Gamecocks' home meet.
Do you feel like you're jinxed?
I do. I just feel like something always ends up going wrong. ... It's frustrating, that I don't have as many opportunities to race. At the same time, I try to take the better side of it, that if I'm red-shirting, I'm not competing year-round and I'm not wearing myself out.
The broken toe, what happened exactly?
I was in San Diego for the weekend, and some of my friends and I decided to play a little 3-vs.-1 soccer while we were on the beach (barefoot, of course). As I kicked for the ball, my foot caught one of the boys' shins. My foot went to the right, but my pinky toe got caught and went left.
At first, it felt like I just stubbed my toe, but the throbbing got worse after a few seconds. When I looked down, my toe was sticking out perpendicular to my foot -- I almost passed out in the sand.
I had to push my toe back into place, which was really gross. The x-rays showed that I had broken the bone clean across, but apparently I did a really good job of re-aligning the bone because the doctor didn't have to re-set it.
What were your expectations for this cross country season, before the injury?
Before I broke my toe, I felt like I was in the best shape I'd been in since high school. So needless to say, my expectations until the injury were quite high; I am really eager to get back to traveling every weekend to the various meets we have all over the east coast.
How disappointing is it to not be able to compete?
It is driving me crazy to not be able to run at all! It's been about a month and a half. (There isn't anything you can do to hurry up a healing bone, especially in a toe.) It's hard for me to not compete because that's the fun part, the reward, to all the hours put in to the practices and required team meetings and functions, etc.
How did you end up at South Carolina?
I guess it was a little random that I chose to come here. Out of the eight colleges I applied to only two (that) were out of state, here (only because I was being recruited) and Oregon. I really liked the campus and the team when I flew out for my recruiting trip, so I figured I would try it for a year at least.
I'm really glad I did, because everything is so different here -- people on campus and around the city are much friendlier and the pace of life is so much slower than at home.
It's actually funny; people from South Carolina and some surrounding states seem to think that Columbia is a huge, bustling city; it is smaller than Bakersfield, and I'm used to the L.A. area traffic and having people say that Bakersfield is small! It's definitely an experience I would never have a chance to get again if I had stayed in-state for college.
You're starting your third year there; what do you think of the university?
I really like USC -- it's big enough to not know everybody you walk by, but small enough that you always end up knowing at least one or two people in your classes, either through athletics, previous classes, or friends of friends.
It seems like about half of my friends are also from out-of-state -- either all over the U.S. or from other countries around the world, which has given me a chance to learn what more areas of the U.S. are like, as opposed to only the South (which alone is quite an experience).
What's your plan for cross country and track?
I only have one year left after this current season. My goal is to get healthy by track season, and then, by this time next year, be able to compete for the whole cross country season. I want to be in top form my senior year and make it better than my freshman year.
What's the plan after you graduate?
I'm actually still not too sure. I am on track to becoming an actuary, and am planning on registering to take my first actuarial test in November. But I'm still open to other ideas if any catch my interest. I'll be attending job and career fairs all year to see what other opportunities present themselves.
Why do you like to run?
It's relaxing. When I've had a bad day, I can stick on my headphones and just run until I calm myself or think through my problem. Also, I love my teammates and other fellow athletes; most of us have a close bond, since we can all relate to the crazy practice schedules and various demands our teams require of us.
What do you really like to do when you're not running?
Academics are really important to me, so when I am not at practice or another track function, homework is my biggest priority. My friends here are a huge part of my life also, so just hanging out with them is what I tend to do with my free time. I also like to read a lot for my own pleasure.
-- Bob Varmette