Zoe Pottinger

S: So to start, can you describe what sports you’ve done and how long you’ve done them?
Z: So is this just upper school?
S: Just throughout life.
Z: Track in 6th grade- I’d never done it before and I just went out to do it. I had a lot of fun and continued that through 8th grade. I did a lot of different events just trying to figure out what I like and what I was good at. I also threw javelin in middle school, though the javelin was like kind of a stomp rocket, not an actual javelin. Coming into freshman year I knew I wanted to do track again. I also did bowling in high school which I didn’t anticipate doing – I didn’t even know it existed. It was really fun, I got to know a bunch of seniors my freshman year through bowling which I wouldn’t have been able to do without doing that. It was kind of lower stress and lower impact than track, obviously, but still a time commitment like you had to drive to places. It was really fun and a really good way to know people. And I got a lot better at bowling! Coming back into the spring, I’ve done track for 7 years.
S: What events have you done?
Z: Finishing out this year, I ran the 4×100 meter relay and I throw javelin. I run the 100 and I ran the 400 once. Did the 4×2 a couple times early on. The past two years, though, I’ve really focused on the 4×1 and javelin because that’s what I really like to focus on. Awards… I’ve gone to bi-district sophomore year thru sernio year. Last year our girls team won the all star league sportsmanship award for emerald city. Like nobody else cheers, like SAAS is like dead and Bush is like, “YEAH!” It weirds me out that no other team is cheering. So that was really great. My junior year, I won the coach’s award for bowling. Then there have been several other track rewards throughout the season, some are between 1st and 8th place et cetera. So yeah! We just finished our season this year with going to bi-districts and it was a really fun season.
S: Awesome, I’m glad! So how did you get into your sports?
Z: For track in 6th grade, I – I honestly don’t really remember what my feelings were I just knew I wanted to do a school sport and that you know, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do but I’d done soccer and some other things when I was a kid but I wasn’t sure exactly if that was what I wanted to do – but I knew I could run! I just kinda went for it! It was really hard 0 it was a lot more work than I thought it’d be. But it really grew into a real love and passion of mine. I kind of just jumped off the deep-end in 6th grade. For bowling, it was a similar story actually. I had been working on the school plays in the Fall which was fun, but I didn’t want to do that all year long. I knew track was in the Spring, and I was like, “Well what am I gonna do in the winter time?” and it really just lent itself to a cool opportunity
S: What were some obstacles you’ve faced?
Z: So, in high school, a lot of it is kind of physical injury. I have a lot of arch problems, um, I have a lot of nerve damage in one of my feet. So that can just be really frustrating and annoying especially when you feel like you’re not performing your best because of it. I think some other obstacles I think is balancing it with school and really feeling like you don’t want to half-ass two things. It’s really hard when you’re really trying to do your best in both of these things but you get home [from practice] and you’re so tired, um, so I think the biggest obstacles – the biggest things that athletics has taught me is more about time management and how to do two things that you really love and how to do that in a healthy way. It’s been an obstacle but it’s such a good learning experience.
S: That’s awesome. You’re actually the first person to bring that up
Z: Really? Interesting. It was definitely one of my biggest obstacles, getting home at 7 and being like, “ahh!”
S: Yeah I feel. The nights I get home after 2 hours of basketball I’m so knocked, dude.
Z: Yeah you just get home and eat a bucket of pasta.
S: Haha yeah! The nights my mom made spaghetti were the best after practice.
S: So what about as a woman? Have you faced any obstacles as a woman, were there any hurdles to jump? *finger guns*
Z: *laughs* Yeah, absolutely. So I think one of the things for me is dealing with menstrual cramps with male coaches. Because basically just for you, I have really bad menstrual cramps like I’ve had to go to the ER and being a freshman girl and trying to explain that to John Ganz as your coach is intimidating and weird because he’s the counselor but also your coach and like, there’s all that. And, um, almost all my head athletic coaches have been men. So as someone who’s really suffering from that kind of thing it can be really weird. And at this point I’ve learned from it and I kind of, like, just had to get over it and be able to talk to your coach when you’re in a lot of pain and can’t work out, That’s been really hard over the years, figuring out how to manage that and how to go about that as much as you can. It would’ve been really nice to have a female coach to talk to at that point. Which they’re getting better at! There are more female track coaches this year for sure.
S: Yeah, yeah… that’s good. I’m glad you talked about that because I feel like everyone just hates talking about this sort of stuff.
Z: No yeah people don’t want to talk about it. You’re like, “I’m on my period,” and they’re like, “oh, no, oh my god, don’t even talk about that.” And I’m like, “I’m in a lot of pain and you want me to run hills, and I can’t go do that.” So trying to figure out how to talk about that and make it less of a stigma. Other than that, I feel like my team has been really supportive. It’s interesting because you work out coed but the races are separate. But you’re all going to the same events and you’re doing the same workouts which I would imagine is a little different from like ultimate or soccer which I imagine you’re more separate more of the time. And… But because you’re all working out together, the track team has just been really supportive overall and people are there to support you no matter what you’re racing. Especially at the meets like it’s one race after another, and everyone’s there and that kind of thing.
S: Yeah because I can imagine like practicing coed, like, I can see how it could end up getting like divided between guys and girls.
Z: I feel like that might’ve happened at some point but for the most part people are really supportive of each other. I mean there are some events where like, I mean it’s kind of like maybe your boys 200 runner is faster than your girls 200 runner but your girls javelin thrower is more experienced than your boys javelin thrower. I think it really balances out. I think it’s less about sex or gender and more about experience level. Like I’m a 4 year track athlete and we had a lot of seniors join the track team this year so even though they’re older, they didn’t know as much about it. In general I’ve had really good experience with the track team not being divided. There can be tension but I feel like that is for other reasons.
S: What kept you playing this logn?
Z: I think one of the biggest part swas being around the teams. I had really good relationships with the people on my team. And it’s really nice to be able to go to school and be with this group of people doing stuff. THe team aspect was really big. Also just like, being able to be outside with school you’re inside and you’re sitting so much. So it’s really nice to be able to go outside – though it is really gross in the beginning of the Spring. It’s like dark and rainy and you’re like, “I don’t wanna be doing this,” but like now especially at the end of the season, I’m sure at the beginning of the fall – even if you’re inside it’s really nice to be up and active – and that was also a big part of it for me. I knew I wanted to stay active and it’s really nice that I could do that with a good group of people around me.
S: Do you have any athletic goals for the future?
Z: Um, I’m not sure. I mean I still don’t know where I’m going to college. Depending on that, I could potentially walk on a track team, or join a running club or that kinda thing. I’m not sure I wanna do that – most running clubs are hardcore and long distance and I’m like, “eh.” Looking at like colleges and thinking about where I’m going to be, a lot of places I’ve looked have classes you can take and a gym you can workout at. And I’d love to be able to find a friend who can do that with me because I just enjoy working out a lot more when I’m with someone – usually. Sometimes I’ll like go do something myself but I think it’d be fun to take a yoga class and have a bunch of people there. There’s always ultimate happening on lawns. I think my goals are mostly just to continue to have athletics and do what makes me happy. And that’ll be a change in college like from what I have now, but I want to continue this in the future.
S: Last question, at the end of my project I’m going to be presenting to young students about everything I’ve learned and my goal is to educate them on what it’s like growing up as a woman in athletics but also empower the young girls to play sports. So is there anything you’d like to tell them?
Z: I think that if there’s something new related to athletics and you’re not sure if you want to do it because you’ve never done it before and you don’t know if you’d be any good and you might not know anybody who’s doing it, I think you should just go for it. Lower and middle school is such a great time to go for it because then you can figure out what you want to do. I had no idea if I would be any good at track when I started in 6th grade. I didn’t know what it would look like at all. I’m so sos glad that I went for it. My biggest advice would be: Don’t get discouraged if you’re not sure if you’re gonna be any good at it because you’re not gonna know if you’re any good at it until you give it a try. Also that it takes time. You’re not gonna go to soccer practice and be an amazing soccer player the very first day. You Have to give it some time and remember that athletics is so much about building a team and being surrounded by people who are supporting you and I think you just gotta go for it.