Andrea Abrams: athlete in action

WEB-Andrea Abrams-Mark Burnham
Abrams hurdles life’s obstacles through her faith and does well on the track

By Clay J. Gray
Photos by Mark Burnham

Andrea Abrams is a fifth-year senior at SFU. She’s from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and like many children she grew up playing soccer and eating orange slices. As Andrea got older the number of sports she played multiplied to just about everything her community had to offer. Unlike many athletes, Abrams didn’t find her event until she was well into high school.

In the 10th grade while Andrea was at a track meet, her coach approached her during her warm-up to tell her what her list of events would be for the day. Until then, Andrea had typically run the 100-meter, 200-meter, and long jump but on that fateful day her coach decided to also enter her into the 100-meter hurdles. Andrea said, “I had never practiced hurdling, I was scared. I had seen people fall before and I didn’t want that to be me.” To Andrea’s delight she didn’t hit a single hurdle during her first race.

When Andrea was deciding where to attend university her biggest decision was whether to stay in Canada or go to the United States; she wanted to compete in the larger American leagues, but to remain in Canada. When asked about how she made her way to SFU Andrea said, “SFU didn’t contact me. I called them and emailed them. I thought SFU was a perfect fit, it was a Canadian School with good academics and it competed in the States.”

Andrea’s progress ion through university placed a few obstacles in her path other than the hurdles on the track. Andrea considers the biggest challenges to her track success to be herself; as with a lot of athletes, she is a perfectionist. For Abrams the desire to obtain perfection comes with incredible pressure that sometimes manifests in excessive self-criticisms about relatively small details.

When faced with the difficulties that come with being a perfectionist, Andrea turns towards her faith. During Andrea’s first year at SFU she let it fall to the wayside; however, in her second year, Andrea found an organization that made her feel at home, Athletes-in-Action.
Athletes-in-Action is a Christian organization that connects fellow Christian athletes and provides an outlet for their faith. Abrams said, “Athletes-in-Action is a great organization for me because it allowed me to connect to likeminded individuals.”

Andrea also expresses her faith through her tattoo of a tree, half of it withering while the other half is in bloom. Andrea said, “My tattoo expresses how I have felt in my life while living with and without God.” After spending five years at SFU, Andrea had many stories about trips she had gone on, races she had won, and races she had lost. What she recalled as one of her most exciting experiences at SFU actually came from a class taught by Kate Tairyan.

When speaking about the classes she took with Dr. Tairyan, Andrea went into detail on a project regarding mental health. Abrams said, “We designed a course focusing on mental health that will be studied, and that Dr. Tairyan has made available for people to access all over the world.” Abrams has made strides on and off the track, and will look to continue on her path while finishing her athletic career and degree at SFU.