Forsey accepts scholarship in West Virginia

Dave Kearsey
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Jillian Forsey of Kippens, a member of Team Canada, runs at the 2013 North America Central and Caribbean (NACAC) Cross-Country Championships in Mandeville, Jamaica.

KIPPENS  Jillian Forsey has made one of the toughest choices of her life, but many other high school graduates would have loved to be in her running shoes.

The 17-year-old Kippens native has accepted a full scholarship to attend West Virginia University for the next five years starting in September. She will graduate from Stephenville High in June and then begin her cross-country running career at the NCAA level as the newest member of the West Virginia University women’s cross-country running team.

Forsey was courted by a number of United States post-secondary insitutions for the past year, including the University of Connecticut, University of Louisville in Kentucky and Villanova University in Pennsylvania.

She made the trek to visit all of the schools on her radar, but she believes WVU was the best fit in the long run.

“It was a really tough decision because I loved all the schools I visited, but I think I just had a really good connection with the girls on the team there and I trust their coach the most with my long-term career,” Forsey said of her decision.

While she didn’t know the dollar value of the scholarship, Forsey said all of her expenses, from tuition fees, accomodations and meals, will be taken care of for her during her five-year stay that will include studies toward a career in dentistry or medicine.

A gifted multi-sport athlete who has excelled in provincial nordic cross-country for a couple of years, Forsey turned heads in the running world when she won the national junior women’s cross-country crown back in November with a final clocking of 17 minutes, 21 seconds at Jericho Park in Vancouver, B.C.

She capped off an amazing running season by placing eighth overall for Canada in the junior women’s race at the 2013 North America Central and Caribbean (NACAC) Cross-Country Championships last month in Mandeville, Jamaica.

Some of the fastest female runners in the United States will provide some tough challenges for Forsey down the road, but it’s no big deal for somebody who has overcome adversity all of her life in the running world, and still managed to come out with impressive results.

She is just now reaping the rewards of the countless hours of punishment her body absorbed during a career that included domination of the province at the high school level during her time as a member of the Stephenville High Spartans cross-country team.

She expects the next chapter in her life will allow her to improve her stock as one of the elite in the running game.

“The West Virginia team usually ranks really high at NCAA races, but I also trust that the coach is going to help me get on national teams and go to world championships as part of the Canadian system,” she said.

Forsey became a world traveller as she made her way up the ranks, but after every trip she was able to return home to her own bed in familiar surroundings. This journey will be all about learning to survive on her own with family and friends nowhere in sight, so it will be a new challenge.

But, like all others, she plans on tackling it straight on and keeping grounded on why she pulled up stakes.

“I’m really close with my family so I’m definitely going to miss them,” she said. “But, I’m sure they will be coming down to visit me and see some of my races.”

Organizations: West Virginia University, NCAA, University of Connecticut University of Louisville Kentucky and Villanova University Stephenville High Spartans

Geographic location: Kippens, United States, Stephenville Jericho Park Vancouver, B.C. Canada Caribbean Mandeville

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Recent comments

  • Colleen
    February 27, 2013 - 18:53

    February 27th - Stand Up To Bullying. Celebrate her accomplishments. Great Job Jillian.

  • Speaking from real experience...
    February 27, 2013 - 18:05

    The reality is, many athletes train in the states at a university, get their education paid for, and then compete at the CAN National Championships, represent CAN at international events on Team Canada, and ya know what, it costs our system, our gov't nothing. We get trained athletes back without the massive expense of having to supplement the university education, or the athletic training and career.

  • Speaking from real experience...
    February 27, 2013 - 17:58

    Real WestCoaster, you are correct. It is idiotic to turn down a full ride scholarship through university and decide to stay in Canada to come out with x-amount of debt. Jillian is helping pave the way for other athletes to see where sport can take you, and how to better your chances to continue improving. Jack, I have to completely disagree with you. As someone who has been through the Canadian Sporting System (CIS) and at a higher level for one sport (ie. CIS medalist, FISU Games Team Canada member, multiple time top 5 at Nat. Champs, National Team member, etc.), and raced at a varsity level at another sport (cross country running), I can speak from recent experience that your ideas, or naivety on how strong the CIS is, and what Canadian Universities can provide young athletes, both finically, and athletically is amusing. At the very least, to consider staying in NL as an athlete in a competitive sport is signing away your ability to reach close to your potential in your athletic career. For an athlete like Jillian to get faster, she has to surround herself with faster athletes, and more competitive races. With the lack of population density in CAN, as well as the large geographical size that Canada has, it is much to difficult to travel and race against better, faster, fitter people on a regular basis. There just isn't enough people training/racing, nor enough universities, or money to fund such travel. Not to take anything away from K.Roxon, she's a great athlete and does well, but to compare the competitiveness of a Paralympic sport to an able bodied sport is a poor argument. There is little comparison based solely on participant numbers. And don't bother trying to say Memorial produces. I've been in that environment, I know 1st hand, it's one of the poorest places to be if you want to be a competitive athlete. I do agree with your one statement though, the universities own you. #1, that isn't such a bad thing, there is pressure to perform, and harnessing that pressure in the right way can be very advantageous. Compared to MUN, you wanna run?...show up to the qualifying races and your on the team. #2, you loose your scholarship if your performances decrease, or marks drop. Again, pressure to keep improving is what is needed, and pressure to keep marks high...where's the negative. If it doesn't work out the worst case scenario is that she can come back to CAN and race in the CAN system, and pay for it. The Canadian System owes it to CONVINCE athletes to stay in Canada to train and do education, not the other way around. My last bit... How many medals did the track and field program in Canada get this past summer in London compared to the US. Out of the good results that CAN received, how many of those athletes train in the US full time, or part time. Look into it....If the US system is so poor, or equivalently as productive at producing athletes as the Canadian system, then why do athletes from all of the world go there to train. Cam Evens (CAN), Mebrahtom Keflezighi(USA), Mo Farah(UK), Bernard Lagat(KEN), Galen Rupp(USA), Lopez Lomong(USA), shall I keep going or allow you to do some research?

  • real westcoaster
    February 27, 2013 - 12:03

    Where do you want this young lady to go Jack? Mun, ST.FX. UBC... , or a full paid scholarship to a real university like West Virginia...hmmm... I guessing the latter. Get real there bud, look at all the schools that were courting her and you expect her to stay in Canada, you're dillusional. Congrats to you Ms. Forsey, it goes to show all of that hard work and determination do pay off and you're a real inspiration to young kids including my daughter. You're only young once, enjoy every moment and experience that life presents to you. What an awesome opportunity!..have fun.

  • Reader
    February 27, 2013 - 11:16

    Easy now Jack, she did say she wanted to take part in world championships as part of team Canada so that means she will contribute to Canadian amateur sports. Also Schools in the States have a lot more money, training, and opportunity available than schools in Canada so why wouldn't she take that offer. If she wants to be the best she has to train and compete against the best and that is found in NCAA. By going to a school in the US it isn't taking away our athletic talent, she is making it stronger.

    • Jack
      February 27, 2013 - 13:32

      Reader, Jillian would have got the same training levels and opportunities at Canadian universities, particularly Saint Mary's, Dalhousie, Laval (Rouge et Or are well funded), McMaster, Memorial (they have Cross Country Running program), UNB, University of Calgary, or UBC. Secondly, one of the biggest weaknesses with NCAA are that athletes not well treated even though they continue to reap billions of dollars in revenue each year, especially their Marquis sports like Football or Basketball. Their athletes are not even allowed to receive financial compensation to cover the costs of their training. Another caveat with NCAA is that scholarships are not permanent as athletes have to renew them year after year, including four year scholarships similar to Jillian. These flaws are a reason Jillian should have trained with a Canadian university affiliated with Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) as opposed to an American counterpart with NCAA membership. Besides, if Katarina Roxon can get access to similar sports training opportunities at home as she will go to Memorial University's Swim Program, so can Jillian Forsey.

  • Jack
    February 27, 2013 - 06:56

    With another promising Newfoundland and Labrador athlete accepting a scholarship for American universities as opposed to their Canadian counterparts, I now have concerns about aspiring Newfoundland and Labrador athletes contributing not only to the brain drain, but also the sports drain as they move to USA instead of contributing to Canada's amateur sport system. Since Canadian Interuniversity Sport member institutions also provide similar athletics programs to NCAA, while I can't say that Jillian made a bad choice, she didn't make a good choice either as another aspiring athlete is going to America as opposed to staying in Canada. In the future, I hope that aspiring Newfoundland and Labrador athletes choose to pursue their athletic career and contribute to Canada's amateur sport system instead of going to another country and taking away our athletic talent in the process.