FORTVILLE — The injury bug has no boundaries — it strikes whoever, whenever, with little disregard for time. Suffering a bite in between running seasons during one’s senior year? That might be the worst timing of all.
Insert Mt. Vernon’s Chelsea Foster. A stress fracture sustained in March has the senior currently sidelined, strutting a bulky, black boot around, a reminder of her current imprisoned situation.
After running cross-country for the first time this past fall, where she was the Marauders’ reliable No. 2 runner, Foster was full steam ahead entering her final year of track and field. She finished fifth at the Hancock County meet in September and was later named to the All-Hoosier Heritage Conference team.
On the track as a junior last year, which was actually her first season, Foster competed in middle distance events as well as the 4×800-meter relay.
And now, rather than sulk, Foster is turning an unfortunate situation into a valuable life lesson, helping younger teammates in a rather unfamiliar coaching role.
The Daily Reporter caught up with Foster, who recently committed to Goshen College, to talk about the injury and her final season of track and field — for now.
Q: Talk about how you started running track and field and what about running do you enjoy so much?
During my freshman and sophomore year I played softball, and by the time I hit my junior year I decided enough was enough. I didn’t enjoy the sport anymore and was ready to just do my own thing. Right before track started, my best friend Grace Corman told me that I should try out with her because it could be fun. Sure enough it ended up being the best thing I ever did. I’ve met some of the most incredible people because of track and cross country. I also love the fact that you can go from having a terrible day, and the minute I start running, it all goes away.
Q: How did running cross-country for the first time in the fall help with your progression?
It was so beneficial. I found out how much I truly love running through cross country and the potential I had to be better than I could have ever imagined. It did help me out a lot for this current track season. During the first couple weeks I felt as if I had so much more endurance than ever before. I also learned a whole new concept of pushing myself past my comfort zone.
Q: How exactly did you get hurt, and what is the timetable for your recovery?
One random day (in March) I felt some pain in my leg and decided to go talk to the trainer. He concluded that it was possible it was a stress fracture. So I went to the doctor, who confirmed it with a MRI. There’s not one reason why I got the stress fracture but probably multiple that we may never know. I’ve been working really hard with the coaches and our school trainer to take this injury one day at a time and hopefully be back soon. Right now I don’t have an exact date when I’ll be back, but I’m hoping before the county meet (May 4). It is unfortunate that it happened during my senior year, but I just know that good will come out of it in the end.
Q: How have you tried to lead by example while out, and what are some of your goals when back and healthy?
It’s definitely been a challenge trying to lead from the sideline. You aren’t with all the other teammates through the gut-wrenching intervals or the long runs, so it’s hard to relate. But I just try to keep them motivated, and I try to help them realize that they have the potential to be better than they can even imagine. I’ve really enjoyed yelling and cheering for everyone during the meets. One of my goals this year is for our 4×8 team, with or without me, to make it to the regional. We have the talent and everyone has been working so hard. I definitely think we can do it.
Q: Who has helped you the most during this tough time? And in your running career thus far?
I have to give thanks to Grace Corman and Meredith Riddle for even convincing me to go out for track. Morgan Hayse (senior last year) and Erin Lyday (junior) really helped me last track season and this cross country season. I honestly don’t think I’d be running today without those two. Addison Cullom and Reagan Woodruff (freshmen) have probably influenced me the most. It’s weird because normally it’s the senior who influences the freshman, but in all honesty, they are the ones who push me everyday. All the support they have given me throughout this injury and even the support before it — I can’t thank them enough. The amount of potential these two girls have is just incredible.