© ‚ÄĒ Submitted photo
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‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúIt was a really tough decision because I loved all the schools I visited, but I think I‚Äąjust had a really good connection with the girls on the team there and I trust their coach the most with my long-term career,‚ÄĚ‚ÄąForsey said of her decision.
While she didn‚Äôt 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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.
‚ÄúThe 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,‚ÄĚ 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.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm really close with my family so I‚Äôm definitely going to miss them,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúBut, I‚Äôm sure they will be coming down to visit me and see some of my races.‚ÄĚ