Salute to Seniors: Anna Folley

Name: Anna Folley

School: South Portland High School

What was your most memorable race/meet?

Running the 800 at the state meet this past indoor. I had been runner up in the 800 the prior three state meets so there were a lot of emotions surrounding it. When I finally crossed the line I couldn't get over that I had finally won my first state title and to top it off I found out that I had broken the state record that one of my past teammates had set. It was so special to share that moment with my coaches and teammates, and I don't think I will ever forget that moment when I crossed the line and all the hard work I had put in for the three years before finally paid off.

Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?

There are so many amazing competitors that I've been able to race against over the past four years but I would definitely have to say that Malaika Pasch, Kate Tugman, and Mia-Claire Kezel were some of the biggest competition I faced.

I couldn't ask for better people to go head to head against each meet. I have truly enjoyed competing against you all and will really miss running with each one of you next year!

What was your greatest accomplishment?

I would say that my greatest accomplishment was probably placing 4th in New England this past indoor season in the 1000m. I had only run the 1000 two times before that and I was racing against girls who ran that specific race really frequently.

If you could do it all over again what would you change about your xc/track & field career in high school?

I wish I would have started running track earlier. I didn't start running until my freshman year outdoors and if I had competed in indoor track my freshman year, I would have learned just how special the running community is much earlier.

What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?

The two biggest obstacles I've had to overcome are being able to believe in myself and learning how to deal with overwhelming anxiety. For me, as I got more serious about running my anxiety surrounding racing increased. In my sophomore year, I battled a lot of anxiety and I would get so worked up about races and their outcomes that I lost the joy I usually found in running. I didn't even want to race because it would get so intense. I still struggle with some pretty significant racing and training anxiety but I've come a long way through the support of my teammates, coaches, and family.

What will you miss the most?

There is no doubt in my mind that I'm going to miss the people in this community the most! I've been so privileged to have such amazing teammates and coaches that I will never forget. The supportive and encouraging environment at each meet can only be created by some very special people. I'm going to miss all the girls that I have gotten to race against over the past few years. Even though we have gotten into some pretty intense races I consider them to be great friends. I hope to stay connected with the many friends I have made through track for years to come.

What advice would you give to younger athletes?

Be persistent and never give up! If you train with consistency and a solid support network there are no limits. All of the little things you do each practice to make yourself better matter and they add up quickly. Do them with intention and focus.

Don't let setbacks deter you, let them fuel the fire in you to keep getting after it. Don't let others set limits for you and don't limit yourself, instead set goals for yourself and go after them, let those goals and hard work guide your success.

What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?

I have been lucky to have incredible coaches that have made huge impacts on me not only as an athlete but as a person. Both Coach Karen Reardon and Coach Darryl Wilkinson have taught me so much about the sport of running and if it weren't for them I wouldn't be where I am today. This season they were joined by Coach Matt Toothaker and even though we only had one season together I learned a lot from him and he made a huge impact on our team's performance. Coach Reardon has pushed me to be the best athlete I can be. She taught me that I am capable of so much more than I think I am and she believed in me and my abilities when no one else did. She taught me what this sport is all about and what it means to approach it wholeheartedly. Coach Reardon always knew the right thing to say when I was overcome with anxiety or horrible pre-race nerves and I hope she knows just how much her words and advice have meant to me over the past four years. Darryl has taught me what it means to love this amazing sport, what it means to be invested in something you're passionate about and to never ever be satisfied with your performance because there is always room for growth and improvement. He gave me a pep talk like no other before every high school race I ran and stayed late each practice with me until I felt confident in my workout. I will never forget him screaming my splits at the top of his lungs or racing to congratulate me after a hard-fought race. Both Coach Reardon and Darryl are incredible coaches and I wouldn't be the runner or the person I am today without their support and encouragement. I'm really going to miss all of my high school coaches next year!

How do you feel about missing your senior season due to the coronavirus?

I was extremely disappointed because I wanted one last season with my team, especially all my senior teammates that I have grown so close with over the past four years. However, I am very fortunate to have four more years of running to look forward to in college, and I know there will be many more opportunities in the future to make up for lost ones.

What are your college plans?

I will be attending the University of Maine this fall where I will be studying biomedical engineering and running for the Black Bears!

Who would you like to say thank you to?

I would like to thank my family, especially my mom and dad for supporting me over the past four years. You both made an effort to try to come to every single one of my meets and that didn't go unnoticed. Your support and encouragement means the world to me and is the only reason I'm able to keep doing what I love. I would also like to thank my amazing coaches for always believing in me and pushing me to be the best I can be. Lastly, I would like to thank my teammates. You guys are the best and I am so grateful for all of the laughs, memories, encouragement, and support. I'm going to miss you all so much next year!

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