A Runner’s Path Doesn’t Have to be Straight to be Perfect

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Recent graduate Allyson Schultz’s motto is “get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Initially, that might not sound like the ideal college experience, but Allyson says the key to success is to step out of your comfort zone, that’s where the best memories are made and the most beneficial learning happens.

Finding her fit on The University of Olivet’s campus wasn’t easy. It took a decision to commit to the track & field and cross country teams, and changing her major once or twice, for Allyson to discover who she was, and more importantly, who she wants to be. She explained this during the Commencement ceremony held in May as the elected senior class speaker.

“I myself have had quite the zig-zagged path full of jagged turns, highs and lows, just searching everywhere for that magical yellow brick road or pair of sparkly red heels that I could click together to lead me to where I was meant to be. If only,” Allyson said to the Class of 2017. “With a background in sports, a history of many injuries and hours upon hours of physical therapy, and one of my own personal heroes just graduating from physical therapy school, I decided I was going to become a physical therapist.”

Allyson had settled on an actuarial science major due to her love for math, but with a liberal arts education, she had the flexibility to study a wide variety of subjects, earning a well-rounded education. In the fall, Allyson will begin her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at Grand Valley State University. While preparing for the unusual transition, Allyson is no stranger to hard work. She graduated summa cum laude, earning her the Donald A. Morris Award as one of the top five graduating seniors. Allyson was also a member of the Global Citizen Honors Program, President’s Leadership Institute, Student Government Association and Gamma Iota Sigma, Olivet’s professional insurance and risk management fraternity.

In addition to her academic involvement, Allyson was a dedicated runner on both the track & field and cross country teams. Growing up in Traverse City, Allyson has enjoyed the outdoors her entire life. It was the sense of adventure and trying something new that drew her to competitive running, and thanks to the various opportunities to join an athletic team at Olivet, Allyson joined the indoor track team. It only took one season for the individualized attention from Head Track & Field and Cross Country Coach Karen Lutzke to make Allyson fall in love with competitive running. Eager for further opportunities to compete and enjoy the great outdoors, Allyson transitioned to a full-time runner and joined the cross country and outdoor track team in her junior year, never looking back.

“Allyson’s growth as a runner was remarkable and inspiring for others to witness,” said Coach Lutzke. “Within a year of starting running, she earned All-Conference honors in cross country and the following spring scored in two events in the conference track meet. Her immediate success was because of her work ethic on and off the field. Allyson has exemplified that she has the drive to achieve great things, and I am confident she will be successful to earn her spot in the field of physical therapy.”

Allyson credits Coach Lutzke, as well as many of her professors and classmates, as the support system that helped her succeed in so many different areas, calling them her family at Olivet. “I used to be so focused on wanting to do everything myself. But then I learned that I didn’t have to and it’s okay to ask for help,” Allyson explained. “The Olivet community became my support system, helping me through every bump and turn on my journey. My professors did so much for me outside of what was necessary, and my coaches played a large role in shaping who I am today. I would not have done as well as I did at Olivet without their support. Olivet is more than a college, it’s a place to build relationships and be a part of something bigger than yourself.”

As Allyson transitions from student to alumna, she knows that her relationships with coaches and professors won’t fade away, and she looks forward to keeping in touch with them as she begins the next step in her education. For the future, Allyson will be utilizing all of the lessons she’s taking away from Olivet – including to stay positive through the inevitable times of difficulty – and is looking forward to the day she earns the D.P.T. at the end of her name.

“Allyson has always been determined and worked hard to become the best runner and student she could be,” Coach Lutzke said. “Her determination is what helped her be successful in cross country and track, and throughout her studies in the classroom. When Allyson was not training, she could be found helping others work to achieve their goals, evidenced through her role as a tutor on campus. Allyson was able to see each of her teammates’ specialized talents, understand that every person had different needs and treat each person as a unique individual. I know she will utilize her skill set as she pursues a doctorate degree and a career as a physical therapist.”

To learn more about the track & field and cross country teams at The University of Olivet, contact Head Coach Karen Lutzke at 269.749.6686 or klutzke@uolivet.edu. Learn more about the opportunities available to students at The University of Olivet by visiting campus or applying.



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