Student-Athlete Spotlight: Alana Jenkins (Women's Cross Country/Track & Field)

During NCAA Division III Week (April 7-13), UW-Eau Claire Athletics is posting spotlights from select Blugolds each day throughout the week. Today's post features Alana Jenkins, who competes in women's cross country and track & field.

View Division III Week Info

Name: Alana Jenkins

Hometown/High School: Eau Claire, Wis./Memorial

Year: Senior

Sport(s): Women's Cross Country & Indoor/Outdoor Track & Field

Major(s): Community Environmental Studies (Liberal Studies)

Minor(s): French Certificate 

Why did you choose to be a Division III student-athlete?

I chose to be a Division III athlete for a few different reasons. First, I will admit I did not seriously consider running in college until my senior year, but meeting Dan and Marcie definitely sold me on running for UW-Eau Claire. Being a Division III student-athlete also seemed like a wonderful opportunity to continue to mentally and physically challenge myself. A large part of it was fueled by curiosity, but I also realized that I wanted to stay connected to the positive culture and discipline offered by team athletics. 

What do you like most about competing in the WIAC?  

People are nice (and fast)! Maybe it is because we are in the Midwest, but I really mean it. There have been countless races where people from other schools have offered congratulations, encouragement, or apologies before, during, and after races. Obviously I am a Blugold and I want the Blugolds to win, but it is awesome to feel part of something even bigger than your own team and to have respect for people who work their butts off, even if they go to other universities. 

What is the greatest lesson you have learned from being a student-athlete?  

"Your best is good enough." It's something my parents have always said to me, and I am finally starting to believe them. Balancing school and athletics can be a lot to handle and everyone is bound to make mistakes, but if you always put forth the best you can on any given day, you won't leave yourself any room for making excuses. And in the end, the great days will be the ones you end up remembering.

Who has been the most influential person in your athletic career?

My high school coach, Mark Johnson, who will always be known to me as "Mojo". Not only did he put up with coaching me when I was a high school student, but he was the first person who got it through my head that running is as much a mental sport as it is a physical sport. He used to tell us, "There are two types of people in this world. Those who think they can and those who think they can't, and they are both right."     

If you have been involved in community service projects, which project has been the most rewarding and why?

One of my favorite things has been helping Marcie with the Girls on the Run 5K. It is very rewarding to see young girls so excited about running and to see their friends and family members joining them in their excitement. It is refreshing to see people approach physical activity as something to enjoy communally.

If you could meet any athlete, who would it be and what one question would you ask them?  

I would like to meet Wilma Rudolph, although she passed away a decade ago, so I would need a time machine. She overcame infantile paralysis and polio to win three Olympic titles at the 1960 Summer Olympics. I would ask her where she thinks "strength" comes from. Not physical, but mental strength.

What is your greatest sports moment?  

To be honest, I think I will always remember the JV Cup my sophomore year. Matthew Wenaas and I were both the top individual finishers, so that was pretty exciting itself, but the really memorable part was our men's and women's teams both winning. I just remember how jacked and united we all were, both about winning and about the potential for the upcoming years.   

What is/are your favorite TV shows?

The show Friends is probably my favorite and the early years of The Office are hilarious, but I am currently in the middle of How I Met Your Mother and Breaking Bad.

What is/are your favorite foods?

I really like carrots, peanut butter, venison, couscous and pumpkin pie, but not altogether. Oh and coffee…if that counts as a food…

If you could live any place in the world, where would it be?

I have not travelled enough to say with any certainty, but I would definitely like to spend time exploring Canada, Scotland and the 50 states. That said, there is something about the Midwest that is hard to beat.

What does your "bucket list" include?

Traveling is certainly near the top, although I have never put much effort into a serious "bucket list". Some of the best moments are the most unexpected ones, and the list is always changing.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

This might not seem like the most "powerful" superpower, but I would want to be able to walk/run on top of water, like Jim Carrey does in the movie Bruce Almighty. I would have to have the ability to switch this power on and off though, because a life without cannonballs is no life at all.

How would your teammates describe you?

That's a hard question to answer, but hopefully they would describe me as someone who works really hard but is still able to find a balance between running and the other parts of my life. Hopefully they would not describe me as being too serious…you need to be able to laugh at yourself sometimes.

Do you have any pre-game/pre-event rituals? If so, what are they?

I am not actually big on ritual, but I do have the same breakfast before races: toast, peanut butter, honey, a banana and a cup of coffee. A little bit of positive self-talk also calms me down and helps me focus.

What is your dream job?  

Non-fiction environmental journalist or author. There is a lot of information that is unavailable or not openly disclosed to the public, and I would love to find ways to help people become more interested in important, environmental issues.