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Tuesday, April 23
The Indiana Daily Student

sports

Elizabeth Stanhope’s journey from homeschool to IU track and field

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IU freshman Elizabeth Stanhope's track career began in middle school.

She tried basketball and soccer, trying to find what worked best for her. Playing soccer helped her discover a strength for running. It's what led to the start of her track career.

Stanhope went from being a homeschooled athlete to enrolling in a single class to join the track and field team at Pike High School in Indianapolis, where she ultimately set a new state record in the 800-meter before arriving at IU.

During her time at Pike, Stanhope was coached by IU alumni and former middle-distance athlete Courtney Brown.

Brown emphasized that Stanhope is quiet and shy, but opened up out of her shell.

“She wants to be the best,” Brown said. “I think with her, when she decides it’s go time, look out.”

Stanhope’s defining moment was the state meet during her senior year, when she beat her previous personal record by three seconds in the 800-meter. 

“Everything worked out how it was supposed to,” Stanhope said.

Stanhope did far more than simply beat her personal record with this time, but the Indiana High School Athletic Association state record itself, cementing herself as a top college prospect with a time of 2:06.62.

Stanhope ultimately decided to stay within the state for college, feeling that she could improve at IU.

“Elizabeth’s a typical freshman, except for the fact that she came to us as the best Indiana high school 800-meter runner of all time,” IU head coach Ron Helmer said.

Helmer noted the jump from high school to Big Ten competition is a large one, particularly for middle-distance events. But Stanhope has handled the transition with maturity.

“As she’s worked her way through the process she’s starting to show us that, in fact, she is that high-level athlete,” Helmer said "I love her work ethic, I love her attitude."

Stanhope has competed in all of the team’s meets so far and had one of her best performance at the University of Notre Dame’s Meyo Invitational on Feb. 5, taking fourth place with a time of 1:30.61 in the 600-meter.

“I’m really glad it happened,” Stanhope said “The couple weeks before that weren’t great, but I guess it was a breakout race.”

Stanhope earned her first victory as a Hoosier on Feb. 14, taking first place in the 600-meter at home during Hoosier Hills.

Stanhope, who prefers running with others to being alone, credits her teammates for what has helped her improve. 

Brown said during her time at Pike, she would run by herself, passing by her teammates.

Her teammates countered this by staggering themselves around the track as Stanhope ran. Whenever she would get ahead, there would always be a teammate waiting to join her to ensure that she wouldn’t be running alone.

The support from her teammates has continued during her transition to collegiate athletics at IU. 

Stanhope worked out on her own over winter break, but found that she preferred to practice with her teammates, who push one another to improve.

“They’re just really encouraging,” Stanhope said. “You’re having a bad day, and they’ll just push you to keep with them.”

For Helmer, such support from teammates is an important point of emphasis for the program as an expectation among the team.

With her past success at the high school level, development over her freshman season and the support of her teammates by her side, Stanhope hopes to continue her success going forward.

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