Katie Turk Plans For The Future During An Uncertain Present

Katie Turk continues to plan for her future even if her present appears to have stalled.

The Carmel High senior, like hundreds of other high school athletes throughout New York State, finds herself engulfed in a athletic year of uncertainty. She doesn't know if there will be an indoor season this winter or an outdoor/cross country season next spring. While Cross Country is set to begin on Monday, one week after other Sections have opened up, even that is waited on with cautious optimism.

On top of that, she doesn't know how she will go through a recruiting process and pick a college amidst what has been an incredibly turbulent year following the outbreak of COVID-19.

So, she waits for answers and trains. She trains and waits for answers. It seems as if Godot will actually arrive before Turk gets answers to the questions that will help determine her future.

"I'm going out and running, even on the days I feel off," Turk, 17, said. "I'm just trying to think of my future mainly. I would never stop running, though. If I stopped running, it would ruin whatever chances I would have in the future. I'm hoping some races come around; I'm trying to find a few.

"Section 1 [of which Carmel is a member] hasn't definitively announced if we will be playing this fall or moving everything to March. I'm just waiting for them to making an announcement. Technically, we're supposed to go back to school on Sept. 29 but we don't even know if we are going back." As of this writing, all things look set for a Monday return, but with the rate of change being almost instantaneous these days, Turk will believe it when she walks into practice. Yonkers HS was the first district in Westchester to postpone Fall sports to the Fall Sports II Session, set for next March.

Turk was looking forward to what should have been a very special senior year, particularly when it came to cross country. She had an exceptionally strong junior season, winning the Varsity D race at the prestigious Manhattan Invitational in a personal-best time of 15:11.20 for 4000 meters. She won the Section 1 Northern Counties Championship and placed eighth overall in the New York State Championships last November.

She hasn't stopped hoping to build on the momentum she created last fall or during the indoor season that saw her add a host of first- and second-place finishes to her resume in both long- and middle-distance races. She admits that training largely on her own has been more difficult than she would have liked -- particularly when quarantine first began in the spring. Turk added that she also had to work to overcome the mental challenge of being alone and running alone, pointing out that solitary workouts are a challenge for her, especially since she enjoys having her teammates around her.

However, she remains buoyed by the thought that there will be another chance to run competitively, whether that is in high school, college or somewhere in between.

"I think about the future a lot," Turk said. I'm a goal-oriented person. In cross country, I had certain goals in mind but that's not happening so I pretty much have to find goals for the next thing that's coming up. I'll just keep working toward something.

"Even though it's not a normal cross-country season I've found different cross-country races. They might not be on a course, they might be on a track, but I can get some of those in and mentally treat them like a big race. I can use them as something to look forward to. In that sense the spring was tough because we had absolutely nothing to look forward to and we had to get past it."

Equally as challenging is the thought of finding a college and convincing a coach that she can run, and run effectively, despite missing at least two seasons can prove to be daunting task for many runners. Turk, however, has a strong enough resume that even if she doesn't run again scholastically until the spring she won't have to do much in the way of impressing college coaches.

Turk is working on a list of colleges she'd like to attend. She says she is looking at between 10-15 schools but is open to speaking to any coach who reaches out.

"Division I would be nice but I would still talk to Division III schools," Turk said. "There are a lot of respectable Division III schools but Division I would be my first choice if it came down to either or. I spoke with different coaches [via Zoom] but I'm sure that list will change. Whoever I can meet, I am down to meet them.

"I'd like to make a decision but I don't want to go in blind. I'm not going to commit for the sake of committing just because I wanted to commit in the fall. I have to try and find the right school. And time wise I've been told I'm in a pretty good spot."

So Turk, like so many others, sits and waits.