Creekside senior Abby Thorpe has only been competing in track and field for two seasons, but that hasn't stopped her from gaining attention from colleges and universities around the country. Thorpe, a two-time state qualifier in the high jump announced she will continue her academic and athletic journey at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. We caught up with her to talk about the decision and competing at the NCRunners Holiday Invitational this weekend.
What was the recruiting process like for you?
The recruiting process for me was very overwhelming and exciting all at once. I started getting letters from schools midway through my junior year. I ended up reaching out to coaches, emailing my PR's, and telling them I was fairly new to track and field.
You had originally planned to stay in Florida or relatively close and Liberty wasn't even in the picture correct?
My club coach, Eli Sunquist, reached out to Liberty telling them on my behalf, how I would be beneficial to their program as a heptathlete. I got a call the next day from Coach Venable asking me if I was interested in going on a visit up to Virginia to check out the school. The thought of leaving 9 hours away from home freaked me out a little, but I was interested to see how an official visit would work and thought it would be a good experience to have.
How did that all change once you went on a visit?
As soon as I got to the campus I was in awe. My parents and I didn't get to Lynchburg until later in the evening but once we got to liberty we couldn't help but to look around. During this self guided tour, we made sure we found the indoor track facility. I was about ready to commit then and there. So when I was able to meet Coach Tolsma and some of the athletes, I was pretty certain this was where I was supposed to be. They were all so nice and welcoming.
What were the other factors that sold you on the school?
The team had a family atmosphere that was appealing to me. The fact that liberty is a Christ centered school is an awesome aspect that I love, because that concept is involved especially in athletics too. On my visit I was able to attend one of their convocation services where we worshiped and listened to a sermon. That was my favorite part. I remember leaving and thinking, "I won't be able to find this anywhere else." It was the total package for me. The only thing that was stopping me was the distance. Then God laid on my heart some of the best blessings are the ones we don't even think to ask for. And being outside my comfort zone is where I learn to trust him instead of how I'm feeling. Everything fell into place and I had an overwhelming sense of peace about leaving home and going to be a part of that program. I'm completely ready to see what all he has in store for my future.
Where else did you consider?
Some of the schools that I considered were UF, UCF, USF, JU, Kennesaw state, and Samford.
In the end the Flames won out. To you they were just the complete package?
Liberty was the only school that I felt like I would be missing out on if I chose not to go there. Everything they have is so well done there. From their classrooms to their facilities. They definitely have a standard of excellence at the school and it's an environment that is going to make you want to strive to be the best you can be no matter what you're doing.
In the past, the school has had some athletes from Central Florida. Dontarian Evans and Jacquez Durham. TFA's Ansley Gebben went there as well. Were you aware of any of them going there? If so, did you talk to any of them about the school?
I was able to talk to Jahquez Durham, who is from Orlando, Florida while I was visiting. It was really cool because I was able to see that people actually do move far away from home. And I was able to relate especially being very familiar with the Orlando area, which is where I was born and raised 40 minutes away from there. He was super nice and we got to eat lunch together.
You've done the jumps, hurdles, etc. in your high school career. Is the plan to do multis at college?
I plan on doing the heptathlon in college. I've only done two so far over this past summer but I think the variety you get in training and being able to switch it up from running to jumping to throwing is super fun and there's always room for improvement. It's always a great opportunity to push yourself to see what you're capable of.
What would you say your favorite event is and why?
I tend to gravitate toward all of the jumps, but my favorite event is probably high jump. I'm able to tell what I did right or what I did wrong and I find I am very self aware and able to verbalize what I should be doing. I like the challenge of getting over the bar because even if I don't get over it the first time I'm able to make adjustments and make a better jump next time.
The NCRunners Holiday meet was my first ever indoor meet that I attended last year. It was my first time ever going over hurdles in a race. It was a neat experience and i'm excited to go back this weekend. I love being able to go to meets because each time it's a new opportunity to get PR's and worst case scenario you get the experience and reevaluate yourself to see how you can do better and what you need to work on.
What have you been doing to prepare lately?
The biggest thing that I've changed in my training this year so far has been weight lifting. I started lifting weights and I think that's going to be a big factor in helping me overall in all of my events.
How big of a relief is it to have your college decision out of the way?