June 3, 2013
Being a college athlete is a full time job that requires drive, ambition and hard work. Erin Dolan, a Drury student who graduated with her Master of Communication this spring is very familiar with all of these principles, and she has used them to her advantage. She was part of Drury’s swim team for four years, earning All-America status, as she pursued her undergraduate degree in integrated media. She went to nationals with the swim team all four years and, as a senior, qualified for the Olympic trials cut. Though she turned down that opportunity to continue her education, competing in the Olympics is her dream and one she is still actively pursuing even though her swim career is over.
After graduating with her undergraduate degree in May 2012, Dolan took advantage of an NCAA rule that allows a student-athlete a fifth year of eligibility if that student changes sports. Dolan was offered a scholarship to run cross-country for Drury, which allowed her the chance to attain her master’s degree. “Cross country was something I had never done before,” she said. “I was the oldest on the team and yet the newest, so I wanted to prove myself to my teammates by working extra hard.” Dolan had great success in cross-country and qualified for nationals, finishing 43rd in the nation, just three spots shy of All-America status. She then started running track for Drury, earned the Great Lakes Valley Conference Track Athlete of the Year award, and qualified for the indoor and outdoor NCAA-II meets. In May, she finished 17th in the 10,000 meters at the NCAA-II National Track and Field Championships in Pueblo, Colo.
In the summer of 2012, Dolan began the accelerated communication master’s program, meaning she completed her degree in only one year. In addition, Dolan started training to become a professional triathlete, adding to her already busy schedule. “I was taking overload as a graduate student in addition to training from three to four hours every day. It was really hard to balance it all,” she said. “But through swimming and good coaching, I knew the importance of time management. Sometimes, I felt in over my head but I worked my butt off to complete the program in a year.”
Her dream of competing in the Olympics is on the road to reality. Dolan was recently invited to the Olympic Training Center and will be traveling to Colorado Springs in July for development and critique. Triple Threat Racing is sponsoring her first year as a professional triathlete and she hopes to continue her progress and gain traction. “My goal is to be on Team USA, and since the Olympics are still three years away, I have time to get ready,” she said. Her strength lies in swimming and as far as running goes, she has only continued to get faster. Biking is where she feels the need to improve. Dolan credits her experience at Drury for building her confidence as an athlete and student. “Many schools don’t have the support system that Drury offers,” she said. “I have a ton of people pushing me to do better. Some people only have one person telling them ‘You can do it!’ Being at Drury, I had the whole school behind me.”
Story by Amber Perdue, a May 2013 Drury graduate.