Oct. 25, 2007
Getting To Know U. By Deanne Stevenson
Finishing up her junior year for University of Utah women's cross country team, Chelsea DiGrazia, is excited for her next meet at the Mountain West Conference Championships in Albuquerque, N.M. DiGrazia battled an injury all last season and missed last year's MWC Championships, but ran great at the NCAA Regionals clocking in at 23:00.6 (54th). She was the top runner for the Utes as a freshman leading the Utes at the six meets in which she competed.
UtahUtes.com had a chance to speak with DiGrazia as the 2007 season is wrapping up. The following is a look at that interview:
Question: When you have a hard day or need to talk to someone, who is the first person you call? Why what do they say to make it all okay?
Chelsea DiGrazia: I call my Mom (Lenora DiGrazia). She always knows the right things to say to calm me down and helps me by talking through the problems.
Q: What is your goal for the remainder of the season, both individually and for the team?
CD: For our team we want to finish at least 4th in the MWC Championships, the last couple years we have finished 5th and 6th so we would like to do better and really come together to accomplish our goal. Individually, I want to go out and feel like I ran my best and be one of the top five runners for our team.
Q: What advice have you given to this year's freshmen on how to be successful in Division 1 cross country at the U.?
CD: Keep at it. Running evolves over time, so you have to stay positive and work hard.
Q: What do you think will be the key to this year's success?
CD: Our practices are starting to taper down a little bit as the season is coming to an end, but I think as long as we still are having quality practices we will do great. Running is not only a physical game either. A lot of it is mental. We need to get focused and to do that we usually visualize the race the night before and in the morning we talk about the race and what we want to accomplish. Once you are running, it is up to you to talk to yourself in a positive way to keep yourself going.
Q: What about being a student-athlete has changed the way you think about either life in general or your college experience?
CD: I have learned to be dedicated to whatever I am doing and to never give up. I would not change being a student-athlete for anything.
Q:What have you learned as far as how you manage to juggle your schedule with school, travel time, cross country and your social life? What is the secret to being able to do them all so well?
CD: Time management. I use a planner and write down all of my activities and school assignments and that helps me a lot to stay organized. To do well in school you have to stay on top of your homework, even when you are traveling, so I am always doing homework.
Q: How would you describe being an athlete for the University of Utah?
CD: It's an honor to be an athlete for such a big school.
Q: What is the motto that you play and live by?
CD: Dedication and hard work are crucial to succeed in college sports.
Q: How have you prepared both physically and mentally coming back from your injury?
CD: I have been doing a lot of cross training to stay physically healthy, non-impact things like biking. It's hard to do that because you are removed yourself from the team, so mentally I have to just keep visualizing being stronger and being able to run better.
Q: You are one of the few athletes who was at Utah under the previous coach? How has that been, having to change tactics for coaches? What benefits have come from the change?
CD: It has been a good transition. The new program has definitely been a positive. Coach Kepler came in with a great attitude and has really built up the program and there have been some major changes with the team's attitude as well. One thing that he always says to us during our meets that really helps out is, "Get it in your head that you belong here."
Q: You are from Elko Nevada, why did you choose Utah?
CD: Originally I didn't plan on running cross country when I was looking at the U. I came to Utah because it has a great medical program. Since I am studying to be a physical therapist it was where I wanted to go. I started out as a walk-on and the next year I was offered a scholarship. I am glad things turned out the way they did and that I got the chance to be a student-athlete for the U.
Q: What advice do you have for upcoming student-athletes?
CD: Never give up. Being a student-athlete is hard, but it's totally worth it. The U. is awesome and between your team, your coaches and all the resources on campus you will have a great experience.