Northwood alumna Erika Adler at UCLA

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College freshman Erika Adler, a Northwood alumnus, continues her race to victory on UCLA’s Girls Cross Country team. Although she only joined the sport in her junior year of high school, Adler proved to be a remarkable competitive distance runner at Northwood, paving her way to success at UCLA with her many accomplishments in Northwood Cross Country and Track and Field. Adler discussed her motivations, shed insight on her athletic career and shared her hopes for the future.

Northwood greatly impacted Adler’s athletic career with its diverse range of sports. Initially a cheerleader with a background in soccer, volleyball and gymnastics, Adler took the leap in junior year to try track and field, then cross country her senior year, and she excelled in both.

“High school was a time of trying new things,” Adler said. “That’s what I always thought high school was, I guess, just to find yourself, and Northwood provided many options for that.”

Adler described the struggles of coping with the pressure of competitive running, but found that the skills that were honed from her experiences affected and shaped her college career for the better.

“Mental toughness really taught me how to be strong when you’re in pain, and I use it in everyday life when I train and compete,” Adler said. “It’s very key for this kind of sport because your brain―it’s crazy how much it affects you and your training.”

Drive and ambition are the propelling factors in a successful athletic career, according to Adler. She advised that high school athletes with a love for a sport should continue playing in college and pursue their passion.

“If you love the sport, if you love what you’re doing, I say keep on going. You won’t experience it, you won’t know until once you’re in college and you’ve experienced everyday life,” Adler said. “There are people that come to school for a sport and then eventually they just don’t like it anymore. If you still have that drive and ambition for whatever sport you want to play in college, I think that’s very important.”

Adler recently finished her first cross country season at UCLA strong. She placed at many events including the Pac-12 Championships in which she finished as 22nd in the 6K run. She claimed it was fun but challenging because the distance of the race and the amount of people racing increased, but she still kept an optimistic attitude.

My first year, I went in with the mindset of, ‘Go out there and do your best, and don’t have any pressure or any negative thoughts. You belong with these All-American runners,’” Adler said. “It’s all the mindset of this sport, so if you tell yourself, ‘You can do this, you got this,’ you know you will perform what you would like.”

Adler does not want to end her competitive running career in college. She hopes to continue afterwards and take her talents to a bigger stadium.

“I guess I’ll see, but that would be my dream,” Adler said. “I would like to compete in the next Olympics―the one that’s in Los Angeles, not this coming one, but the next one, hopefully. We’ll have to see, but those would be my dreams for right now.”