Track and field requires confidence, determination, and athletic ability — and unlike sports such as basketball or hockey, it is an individual sport. Competitors succeed or fail based on their own merit. Lindsey Butterworth, the star of SFU’s track and field team, counts this as one of the reasons she fell in love with the sport.
“I enjoy[ed] the individual level about it,” she says. “It’s really fun, soccer and field hockey and the team sports, but I really liked how [track and field] was all on you. I’m pretty competitive, so I really liked that part of it.”
Lindsey has always been active, playing multiple sports — field hockey, soccer, volleyball, and baseball — before she started focusing solely on track. “I did [track] in elementary school and high school, but I didn’t actually training until grade 10 when I joined a club. I also played a bunch of other sports, and then I took it seriously starting in grade 11 and 12.”
Coming out of high school, going to post-secondary for track wasn’t really on Lindsey’s mind. In fact, SFU wasn’t exactly her first choice: “I really didn’t look in depth into that many other schools. I was kind of waiting for people to talk to me, and I didn’t really take any initiative to research other schools, and [head coach] Brit [Townsend] just contacted me. I actually played soccer up here every Saturday in high school and I was like, ‘I’m never going to go to SFU,’ I hated it, it was so ugly.
“But then Brit contacted me and wanted me to come on a tour,” she remembers. “So I went, I really liked Brit, and I really liked it up here. I thought about it for a couple of months, I saw what the training group was like, and how successful all the other girls [were] at the same events as me, and decided to take advantage of a great program that was right in my backyard. But I’m really happy I came here, it turned out the best it could have possibly turned out.”
Adjusting to the academic workload of university was a big challenge. “When I came here I wasn’t really looking into the academic side,” Lindsey says. “I was just kind of like, ‘Oh, I’m just coming here to run.’ I probably wouldn’t have gone to university right after high school if I didn’t have any athletics, I would have taken time off and figure out what I wanted to do. But I’ve definitely figured out what I’m interested in, and that’s helped my grades out a lot.”
Lindsey’s events are the 800 and 1,500 metre runs. “I just naturally like the middle distance. Ever since elementary school, I’ve always liked cross country and those middle distances. So I kind of never really tried anything else. I never tried 100 or 200, I’ve just always liked those events.”
She’s also achieved a considerable amount of success, winning the Great Northwest Athletic Conference 1,500 m in 2012 and finishing runner-up in 2013, as well as being named one of the female performers of the meet this year.
Being a fifth year senior, Lindsey’s time here on the mountain is coming to an end, and when asked about her biggest achievement at SFU, she had to pause to reflect.
“I think making Division II nationals two years ago was a big accomplishment, and being all-American there. It was a really competitive field, and there was a lot of depth,” she says.
“We were the first ones to ever go to a national championship since we’ve been in the NCAA. That was a huge accomplishment because we also pretty much got to represent Canada because we were the only Canadian school. That was pretty huge.”
Once her time at SFU comes to a close, Lindsey’s goals are clear. “I think I want to continue running, and see where that takes me,” she says. “Then I’ll try and focus on a career, maybe more school. I’m interested in working with kids and nutrition, like health promotion. But I think I want to train for the next year and see where that takes me.”
“We [on the team] always have bagels with peanut butter and banana, and toast them with the hotel iron.”