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Cross Country: Small schools no roadblock for freshmen

Aaron Sant-Miller and Vicky Jacobsen | Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Not every Notre Dame freshman comes from the same type of high school. Still, freshmen Sydni Meunier and Molly Seidel are going through a similar experience at Notre Dame. Both runners attended high schools with graduating classes smaller than many freshman intro classes.

“I think that I’ve definitely got a very different perspective coming from a class of 13 [students],” Seidel said. “I think I learned, coming from such a small school, how to branch out. You can’t just hang out with the people in your class, you have to kind of get out there and meet people in sports and different activities so you have a wider circle of friends. It kind of taught me to be a little more outgoing.”

For Meunier, who graduated in a class of about 75, Notre Dame presents an opportunity to embrace a more outgoing side and meet new people as well, an experience that wasn’t as salient for her in high school.

“I really like how there’s always opportunities to meet new people here, where at my high school there really wasn’t,” Meunier said. “I really like that aspect of it, and that you can be a new person any time you want to.”

In high school, both runners faced similar barriers. Meunier’s high school, Gibson City Melvin-Sibley in Melvin Ill., did not have a cross country team. Seidel, a graduate of University Lake School in Delafield, Wis., had a cross country team, but not a track team, something she changed in her time there.

“I had to start the track team when I was a freshman, and my first two years it was just me on the team,” Seidel said. “It was definitely difficult not having that sort of support, I guess, but it helped me become very independent.”

But for Meunier, the small school atmosphere fostered a great deal of support.

“Being from a smaller town, everyone always cared about what you were doing,” Meunier said. “The coaches and everyone there was always looking out for every individual just because there wasn’t as many people to keep track of.”

For Meunier, this closeness was something she really appreciated in high school and has managed to find at Notre Dame as well.

“[In high school] everyone had really good relationships with each other.” Meunier said. “I think it was really great because everyone supported everyone a lot. [At Notre Dame] I live in Howard, which is one of the smaller dorms. I think that was perfect for me, coming from a small town. I really like the sense of community and I think that it’s the perfect fit for me.”

Still, both runners found their way to Notre Dame, which turned out to be the ideal size and fit for both of them.

“At first, when I was starting the whole process, I didn’t really care either way about size,” Meunier said. “Now that I’m here I definitely think the size of Notre Dame was perfect. It’s bigger, but I really like how there’s such a feeling of community around campus.”

For Seidel, the size was a perfect fit as well, allowing for a lot of opportunity to branch out.

“I knew that I wanted to come to a school that definitely had a lot more people than my high school, just to get that opportunity to branch out and get to meet new people,” Seidel said. “I think Notre Dame just seemed like a really great size. It wasn’t too big but still enough people that I was going to get to know a lot of people.”

For both runners, a freshman class of 1,995 students is just right.

Contact Aaron Sant-Miller at asantmil@nd.edu and Vicky Jacobsen at vjacobse@nd.edu