BY MICHAEL KELLY
BURLINGTON, Vt. — In her second season with the University of Vermont women’s track and field team, minor injuries and ill-timed ailments have robbed Emily DeWald of many opportunities to compete.
When she has competed, DeWald has done well — like when she helped her UVM 4×400-meter relay team to a victory at a league meet back in December. But despite her sporadic ability to compete, the 2014 Niskayuna High School graduate is upbeat about her experience with the Catamounts.
“I have fantastic friends and I’m really happy there,” she said.
A sophomore, DeWald is majoring in elementary and special education. Both of the 20-year-old’s parents — Rob and Suzanne — have worked in school systems, and DeWald has spent gobs of her free time in recent years helping out at the Boys & Girls Club of Schenectady.
“I love working with kids,” she said.
DeWald ended up at UVM after a wide-ranging college search — “My mom had spreadsheets for it all,” she said, laughing — but the choice to head to UVM, though, was long in the making. While DeWald is a runner at UVM, she also played soccer growing up and that sport often took her to the Burlington area.
“One of my favorite soccer tournaments was in Burlington, so I got exposed to the town and really liked it there,” she said. “When it came time to look at schools, Vermont instantly came to mind. … Ultimately, when I stepped onto campus [for a visit], this school felt right.”
How she has been treated at the school, DeWald said, has confirmed to her she made the right choice. Besides from her friends and teammates, the former Silver Warrior has received lots of support from her college coaches while she has battled a variety of maladies that have stuttered her athletic career.
“My coach, he’s been beyond supportive,” DeWald said of head coach Matt Belfield. “He’s one of those coaches who supports everyone on the team, whether they’re scoring at championship meets or they’re at the bottom. He supports everyone and gives everyone equal time.”
When healthy, DeWald has used her first two years at Vermont to begin transitioning to running longer distances for the Catamounts. Mostly a sprinter and mid-distance runner in high school track, she has geared her training toward distance events where she thinks she can better help her team in the future.
“Back in high school, I had very low mileages and I’ve been slowly increasing it more and more,” she said. “What used to be long runs for me are normal ones now.”
With a number of meets coming up in February, DeWald said she is hopeful to make an impact this indoor season for the Catamounts. If not, she said, she’ll keep working hard as she turns her focus to the outdoor season.
“I’m just going to keep being patient with it,” she said.