Tsion Yared, a first-year student looking to concentrate in either neuroscience or psychology on the pre-med track, is a distance runner on the cross country and track & field teams. Originally from South Florida, she is spending the semester with fellow ’24 teammates in Bend, Ore.
When the University announced in August that the fall semester would be remote, Yared and her teammates scrambled to find a house so that they could still train together.
“In Oregon,” Yared explained, “there is a really good setup here in terms of trails, beautiful weather … beautiful mountains … fun for hiking and running.”
Although Yared met her teammates for the very first time at the airport, the girls quickly fell into a comfortable routine with one another. Their nightly team dinners are filled with conversation, and Yared recalled oned day when she and her roommates woke up at 4:00 a.m. to hike to the top of a mountain and watch the sunrise.
“Most of these are experiences that I just would never have had, living in South Florida,” Yared said. “We try to do something fun every weekend, whether that means hiking or going to a pumpkin patch and eating pie on the grass field together.”
Beyond just having a group of friends to hang out and do homework with, Yared expressed how thankful she is to be living with people who “have a lot of the same commitments … and who will keep you accountable … when it comes to running and recovery.”
With a smile on her face, Yared explained that study breaks reflect their commitment to the team. Unlike many college students, whose breaks consist of watching Netflix or spending time on TikTok, Yared and her teammates take breaks to dance or do core workouts.
Yared said that, like any new Princeton student, she struggles with the intensity and workload of her classes. Similar to many first-years, her writing seminar class has proven difficult to navigate. Since the semester began, she learned that “taking breaks is such a big help.” And for Yared, running remains her “saving grace,” as she counts down the minutes until 3:00 p.m. for their run together.
Although the loss of the fall season remains on her mind, Yared said she has sought to remain positive. A part of her is grateful that she doesn’t have the pressures of active competition on top of classes, especially in a pandemic.
“I think, when you’re competing, there is that added level of pressure,” Yared said. She also recognized that she is not “in the worst position” since, as a first-year, she has the time to continue to train and improve, “especially in the sport of running, where a lot of the top NCAA runners are seniors or fifth-years.”
“Training with the girls in Bend is a sweet thing that came out of this unfortunate situation, something that probably wouldn’t have happened otherwise,” she said.
Beyond bonding with her housemates, Yared shared the various ways that her entire team has connected virtually.
“As a distance crew, we have weekly Sunday night meetings with everyone to check-in … and there’s an Excel sheet where we can write updates about things that made us happy throughout the week,” Yared explained.
Additionally, the team’s coaching staff has been bringing in “insane athletes … like English Gardner, who was a part of the USA’s 4x100 Olympic team” to foster growth. This week, the girls have been randomly sorted into smaller teams for a virtual relay race, to encourage a competitive mindset. Yared said such activities are a “good way to connect and to stay in racing mode.”
Yared expressed appreciation for the women who are her friends, teammates, and housemates.
“I am excited to finally be on campus,” she said, to be training with the rest of her team, and to be “feeling a little more of that team spirit.”