Salute to Seniors: Sophie Steidle of Collingswood HS

Salute To Seniors is a medium for "senior farewells". We invited the 2021 seniors to tell their stories from the past four years. We hope we can offer a chance to reflect on all the great moments these student athletes were able to experience.

Submissions for this year's series is closed, we have our last submissions in queue to publish all this week.

Sophie Steidle

Collingswood HS

The Collingswood 2021 senior ran to an eighth place finish at the NJSIAA Meet of Champions last spring in the 3200m.

What was your most memorable race/throw/jump/vault/moment? Why is that?

My most memorable race has to be this year's Cherokee Invitational. Going into the race, I was coming off a sacroiliac joint injury that kept me from running for a little over two months and any form of cross training for a month. Although I had only a month of running under my belt and wasn't sure where my fitness level was at, I remember going into the race with no expectations. Surprising myself, I ran a 29 second PR and broke 11 minutes for the first time. I've kept a wall of goals on my wall since I started running competitively in 5th grade and breaking 11 minutes has been hanging up there ever since. A permanent smile was plastered on my face while celebrating post-race with my friends and family making that night truly magical and a memory I'll never forget.

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

My biggest competition over my four years would most definitely have to be the Haddonfield girls. They are absolute beasts and have pushed me to become the runner I am today. Their hard work and dedication for the sport is truly inspiring to me. 

What was your personal greatest accomplishment?

My greatest personal accomplishment would have to be placing 8th at Meet of Champions this Spring. Although my time wasn't what I had hoped for, I had only dreamed of qualifying for outdoor Meet of Champions as an underclassmen and a top ten finish was a goal I had written on my wall since freshman year. To qualify my senior year for the first time and medal, while also getting the opportunity to compete against some of the most talented girls in the state was something I was incredibly proud of. 

If you are writing a letter to your younger freshman self, what are some items that might include?

This year I've learned that confidence is key to pushing past those benchmarks you've been striving to hit, so I would tell myself to avoid comparison, and to believe in my training, my hard work, and myself more. I'd also tell myself I should download strava earlier. 

What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?

As an underclassmen I was very injury prone and had to navigate numerous injuries over the course of many seasons. Over time, I had to learn how to listen to my body and pay close attention to the details that are crucial to staying healthy and accomplishing the goals I set each season. 

What will you miss the most?

Over four years, it's impossible to pick what I will miss the most. Bumpy bus rides to the bubble, early morning workouts with the Wittes, rolling out during class, Penny Packer long runs, hyping up the cross country team on the line, singing 'The Climb' with my teammates post-race, receiving race tactics from my favorite cheerleaders before meets, and being surrounded by my coaches and teammates that have inspired me and have become some of my closest friends are just some of the highlights I'll miss the most. 

What advice would you give to younger upcoming athletes?

Your going to fall, your going to stumble, your going to find yourself questioning yourself or comparing yourself. With sport, these are things that are often unavoidable. Injuries happen, we all get pre-race nerves, and sometimes self-doubt can creep in. Although these are realities, I'd reinforce what my Coach, Coach Swern reinforced to me; "no rain no rainbows." Often, the rain that comes with competing and training, combined with some self-belief, hard work, lofty goals, and dedication is an unexpected winning combination. 

What are your post-high school or college plans?

I am continuing my academic and athletic career at Princeton University and am running as a Tiger! 

Who would you like to say 'thank you' to?

I can't thank my parents enough for supporting me throughout High School. Thank you for being there for me through the highs and lows and providing me with unconditional support. I truly wouldn't be where I am today without you. I would like to thank Coach Bob McHugh for introducing me to the sport and for always cheering me on in every stage of my High School career. I'd also like to thank my coaches Colleen Witte, Tara DeShayes, Chip Witte, Lisa Hall, and Steven Swern for everything over the past four years. Especially Mrs.Witte for being my rock when I needed her most!