Vernon’s Sarah Bailey never drank coffee until she went to college.
The day-to-day life of a student-athlete proved to be a grind for the Fulton grad, who recently finished her sophomore year with the University of Jacksonville Dolphins women’s track team in Florida.
Her daily routine went something like this – early-morning practice, classes, after-school practice, study time, crash. Repeat.
Caffeine was soon added to the regimen.
“It’s (Florida) not as glamorous as people might think,” said Bailey, 20. “You’re so busy. By the time you’re done it’s nine o’clock and you just want to go to bed.”
Bailey said the mental anguish of pursuing a mathematics degree was only outweighed by the physical demands of her workout schedule. The latter is part of the reason Bailey decided to transfer to the University of the Pacific Tigers of Stockton, Calif. this fall.
“I went from running whenever I wanted to having a schedule and doing high mileage,” said Bailey, adding she was logging upwards of 90 kilometres a week. “I only run the 800 and 1,500 so I’m not sure I needed that.
“I didn’t have an official running break where you take more than two days off in a year. It’s pretty tiring so by the end of the school year you just want to sleep.”
Bailey said Dolphins’ head coach Ron Grigg’s style worked for some athletes, but she felt their philosophies didn’t mesh.
“The coach is a great guy, and we have a mutual respect. But I wasn’t doing as well as I wanted down there, and felt I needed a new training outlook; different types of training that I know work for me.”
Bailey is looking forward to a fresh start under Tigers’ head coach Josh Jones. She is also excited about Northern California, as the Pacific campus, located in the San Joaquin Valley, is only about 90 minutes east of San Francisco.
“He’s really willing to work with me and make me successful,” said Bailey, noting the Tigers don’t compete in the indoor season. “It’s only their (Tigers) second official year and it’s a young team and I like that energy. It’s going to benefit me.
“The last two years haven’t been exactly what I wanted. I hope I can forget about it and move on and be fast again.”
Jones is excited to be adding a veteran like Bailey, who won provincial gold in the 800 in 2011 with Fulton. He will be counting on her to offer leadership for the Tigers.
“She brings competitiveness and depth to our young team,” said Jones. “We look forward to having her experience help propel our team as we enter the (NCAA Division 1) West Coast Conference.”
In the cross-country season, Bailey recorded personal bests of 19 minutes flat in the 5-km and 5:04.76 in the mile. Her specialty, however is on the track where she posted a 4:38.99 in the 1,500 and 2:13.87 in the 800.
Bailey’s development took a setback in her freshman year as she was diagnosed with a stress fracture in her fibula in December, 2011. It caused her to redshirt the 2012 indoor season.
After going through rehabilitation, she was eventually allowed back on the treadmill three times a week for a whopping five minutes.
“That really set me back,” said Bailey. “I didn’t start running again until March (2012), and I missed the entire indoor season.”
Despite several low points in Jacksonville, Bailey enjoyed the atmosphere there, especially at events like Florida Relays.
“You’re around people who are breaking records at the beginning of the season,” she said. “I’m going to miss the people down there.”