Track star launches college career past challenges
Addie Berens knows what it takes to go the distance.
The Hillsboro High School graduate hit every mark as a scholar athlete her first year as an elementary education major at Fort Hays State University and seems poised to soar.
The summer before college, Berens was just happy to sign with Fort Hays after her senior year of competition was lost to COVID-19.
Her coaches relied on the strength of her performance during her junior year at Hillsboro, where she took fourth in javelin at state and won regionals.
But she would need to get back into shape after a year off.
“I was so ready to begin competing again after my senior year,” she said.
Andreas Maheras, assistant track and field coach at Fort Hays, gave Berens a workout regime for the summer.
Berens lifted weights three days a week at Tampa Fitness Center, not far from her parent’s home, and did short sprints twice a week.
That fall, Berens lifted weights six days a week and worked on her technique at least four.
Hillsboro High track coach Dennis Boldt let her borrow a javelin and do some throwing.
The support of her new teammates at Fort Hays also helped.
“Throwers are a lot like family,” she said. “We lift weights and practice together.”
Berens was nervous her first few meets, but quickly took off.
She qualified for NCAA Division II championships in javelin and placed 11th, earning All-American honors.
Berens also soared academically her first year. She coped with classes held by Zoom, but loved showing up to class. Her good attitude earned her place on the honor roll.
She was given Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic’s Associaton’s scholar athlete award in 2021 and also was listed on the MIAA newcomer academic honor roll.
Not everything was easy, though.
COVID-19 protocols meant couches were removed from student lounges, and lunch tables were split up, making college seem less cozy for homesick students.
Berens was assigned a living and learning community of education majors who lived in the same residence hall attended all classes together.
This turned out to be a boon, as Berens got to be with people who shared her interests.
Berens never was asked to quarantine, but she is looking forward to a year of normalcy after masks and daily temperature checks.
She plans to follow her mother, Michele Berens, veteran of Hillsboro Elementary, into teaching.
“I like being around children and watching them grow and I have seen the impact she’s had,” Berens said.
She has learned how to achieve her goals despite the obstacles life appears to throw in her way.
“Just show up every day with a positive attitude,” she said. “You will never know what tomorrow can bring, so give everything your best.”
Last modified July 15, 2021