Oct. 9, 2001
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
By Bill Mayville, FSU Sports Information
Talk about a culture shock.
On paper, Florida State junior transfer Vicky Gill looks like any other cross country runner. But look a little closer, and you may notice some stunning differences.
First, not only is Gill new to the FSU cross country team – she’s new to the entire U.S. collegiate system. As a transfer from St. Andrews University in Scotland, Gill has to not only learn a new school and new cross country team, she also has to deal with being an ocean away from home.
Since none of her family or friends had competed or even attended college in the U.S., Gill had nothing to base her expectations on.
“I thought the competition would be harder just because of the number of girls,” Gill explained. “I thought for every girl at home that could beat me, here there would be 10 girls who could do it.”
Fortunately for FSU, Gill underestimated her own abilities. In her first NCAA competition, Gill ran the 5K course at the Auburn University Cross Country Invitational in 16:18.30, good enough for first-place overall. Her impressive time paced the Tribe to a second-place finish at the Invitational, and earned her ACC Performer of the Week honors on October 1st.
All of this was a bit of a shock to Gill – sort of.
“It was a bit of a surprise, but it was nice” Gill explained. “One of my teammates (Allison Lind) got it in the first week, so it was quite cool that we both got it.”
Gill’s early success is a pleasant surprise to head coach Bob Braman, who said even though he knew she had potential, he had no idea how good she could be.
“Vicky is doing remarkable,” Braman said. “She is relatively young for the amount of success she has had.
“Typically, distance runners tend to peak in their late 20’s and early 30’s, and Vicky just turned 21.”
According to Braman, Gill’s success is even more notable, since she is only in her third year of running.
“She has no track times at all for us to gauge her performance on,” Braman explained. “Distance runners usually run year-round, but Vicky had no track experience at all.”
In addition to adjusting to running in the NCAA system, Gill has had to adjust to life in the U.S. as well. Fortunately, her teammates and coaches have been very helpful in making her transition to life in Tallahassee as smooth as possible.
“They helped me with my administration stuff, telling me where to go and what to hand in,” she said. “They’ve shown me around, and whenever I am confused about something they explain it to me.”
“I am really loving it here now, now that I have gotten used to the climate,” she added. “When I first got here it was very hot and humid, and that was hard to get used to.”
Gill also explained the biggest difference she sees from school here to back in Scotland is how the athletes are taken care of here.
Back home, athletes are not given any special consideration for being athletes, and the schools are more academically focused.
“I was given no special consideration if I was away at a meet or anything,” she said. “At home, athletes have to buy all their own competition equipment, and here they give everything to you.”
Even though she claims no homesickness, she does call home to get updates from her friends on her old school’s most famous student. Prince William of England just enrolled in St. Andrews and started classes in September, and Gill is always trying to get the inside scoop.
“I am always calling my friends who are still at the school and asking them what’s going on,” she said. “They tell me its crazy there, that there are journalists everywhere.”
As for her goals for the remainder of the season, Gill says she has no set goals in mind – she just wants to improve.
“I just want to be the best runner I can,” Gill stated. “I’m happy with my performances, but
I am never satisfied. I just want to get better and better. I don’t see the point of training just to stay in the same place.
“I just want to keep pushing myself, and go right to my limits and see what I can do.”