Student-Athlete Spotlight - Laura Kinley

Running 3.7 miles every weekend may not seem enjoyable to most people, but senior cross country runner Laura Kinley loves it.  A native of the Washington, D.C. area, Kinley has certainly made the most out of her time at Catholic University of America, as well as running for Head Coach Joe Fisher and the CUA Track and Field team.

Kinley's journey to the cross country program varies from most student-athletes at CUA.  A former soccer player at St John's Catholic Prep in Frederick, Md., she decided to run track and field at CUA.

Prior to CUA, Kinley had never given thought to running cross country, but coach Joe Fisher talked about Kinley's path to the cross country program, "I convinced her to come and train with the cross country team to prepare for the spring track and field season," said Fisher.  Kinley found herself running in cross country meets so soon that as she describes,  "I wore someone else's spikes for the conference meet."

Coach Fisher, in his 35th year at CUA, describes Kinley as a true student-athlete that has matured throughout her career because of her ability to listen and comprehend.  Fisher also loves the fight that Kinley possesses during meets saying, "You may beat Laura, but you will have to win to do it.  The other runners have to fight to the very end because she will definitely fight until the end."

Kinley is certainly a winner, having been named to the All-Landmark Conference Team in 2011 following an impressive ninth place finish at the conference championship.

Kinley's teammates realize just how valuable she is to the CUA squad.  Fellow senior Keely Eckberg sees Kinley as a leader, "who has helped us all grow as runners throughout the season.  She has demonstrated to us to keep a positive attitude, to set goals and reach them, and to stay committed to the team." 

Off the trail and track as a media studies major, Kinley has certainly made a name for herself in the academic sphere as well.  In 2010, she was unanimously awarded by the CUA faculty the two-year Ed McMahon Scholarship that "honors an outstanding and professionally promising rising junior with a $2,000 tuition award for each of the student's remaining semesters."

Dr. Stephen McKenna, Associate Professor & Chair of the Department of Media Studies, has nothing but glowing reviews for Kinley.  "She's a sponge, the kind of student teachers love to have in their classes.  When I saw her on my senior seminar roster, I thought, 'Great, that's really going to help things go well.'"

In addition to her athletic and academic commitments, Kinley has also become deeply involved in service opportunities offered at CUA.  For the past two years, she has traveled to Jamaica during spring break on mission trips to help those living in poverty.

Kinley views these trips as a way to provide perspective on the rest of the world and "learn from those who live a much harder life than us."

The trips have also allowed Kinley to meet new people on campus that she otherwise would not have met.  "Sometimes being an athlete prevents you from meeting students on campus, but these trips helped me to make new connections."

In her senior year, Kinley realizes just how special her time has been and just how many opportunities she has been offered.  "CUA has offered me so many different opportunities.  I like the emphasis on academics over athletics.  They make sure that we really are student-athletes."  Being able to be a student, an athlete, and a service volunteer has made Kinley's experience at CUA special.

CUA has left a mark on Kinley and the same could be said for Kinley on the CUA cross country and track and field teams. Kinley looks back on her time at CUA fondly stating, "Coach Fisher's plans and practices didn't make sense freshman year, but by senior year, you realize his plan.  He made me love running."

Coach Fisher acknowledges Kinley's importance to the program, saying, "Laura is a winner, but she does so while keeping life in perspective.  When she graduates, it will be a big loss for us, but I know that she is well prepared for the future."

Kinley is also an officer on the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) at CUA.  She will graduate in the spring of 2013 with a degree in media studies.  She looks forward to starting her career in communications and broadcasting either in New York or Washington, D.C.

Kinley and her cross country teammates are set for this weekend's Landmark Conference championship, which will take place on Saturday, October 28 on the campus of Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa.  Start time is set for 11:45 a.m.

Story written by Vicky Berry, CUA Office of Athletic Communications

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