Q: Both of you are in the middle of your senior cross country seasons; how has Fairfield helped you grow as a person academically and athletically over the past three years?
SD: I know academically I have definitely grown since freshman year with all the resources they provide here at the Walsh Athletic Center. The study hall and the tutoring really goes a long way toward helping you to be the best student you can be. Being a student-athlete, you put student first, so the athletic department tries really hard to make sure you succeed in school, as well as athletics.
SV: I agree with Sam with all that he just said. I think personally each year as a student-athlete I have improved academically, which has been really good. I think the structure of the team and having a set routine and schedule everyday with practice and everything helped with that.
Q: Each of you have had some great highlights to this point during your running careers, what is one moment in particular that sticks out to you?
SD: For me it was coming in freshman year and running in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship race. It was not necessarily one of my best performances, but it was the most satisfying performance I’ve ever had. Coming into that year, we had such a great team and I look back on all the seniors that guided me and set the bar in terms of where they wanted to take this program and their vision became my vision. So being able to race alongside them and finish in third place was huge. It was special to run with the seniors and come in and contribute as a freshman.
SV: I would say freshman year for me too was a very memorable year for me. We had a great group of seniors that were really good leaders and we had a strong season. Sophomore and junior years were a little bit of a struggle for me with the stress fractures and injuries and iron deficiencies, so hopefully this year I will end on a good note again like I did in freshman year.
Q: Coach Rickert has been with you through most of your college career on the course, what kind of effect has he made on your journey at Fairfield?
SD: Coach Rickert has a good background in running, so when he took over after my freshman year he smoothed out my rough edges and I really developed well as a runner under him. I think I have a personal record every season and I have been able to run faster and faster every year, so his philosophy on coaching and his training methods have helped me and the guys as well as the girls team progress every year.
SV: Coach Rickert has been a really good coach for us. He definitely is very involved with the team and everything he teaches us makes us stronger runners and teammates out there.
Q: You both have had siblings play sports here at Fairfield; Sam, your brother now as a sophomore on the XC team and Stef with your sister who was on the lacrosse team for three years and is now a senior. How does having a sibling playing a Division I sport here at Fairfield help you to be at your best?
SD: It is definitely competitive between me and my brother. When we go home and I don’t beat him in a race, I will definitely hear about it from my parents and my family, so I try to stay in front of him as much as possible. It is always nice having someone to train with during the summer and in off times, so we help push each other when we are having tough days. It’s really healthy competition.
SV: It was certainly a bonding experience for us to be on sports teams here. We would both go to each other’s games and show support for one another at each game, so it was really nice to have her here.
Q: MAAC Championships are approaching; what are your team expectations for the race?
SD: For the guys, it is almost a lock that Iona will win, so we are just going to try to place ourselves like we did as freshmen when we got third place. It has always been a goal for us seniors to get back to that placing. Individually, I just want to place as high as I can to help my team score as low as possible.
SV: On the girl’s side, the teams within reach of ours would probably be Canisius, Siena and Manhattan, so as a team our goal is to finish in front of those three teams.
Q: Including track and field in the spring, do you have any specific goals you have set out to accomplish before you hang up the spikes?
SD: I just want to soak up every moment and enjoy the journey and if I PR or not or if I run fast or not comes secondary to setting an example for the younger kids who are coming up.
SV: I want to give it my all in every race and focus on the strategy of each race because we are never going to have this opportunity again to race at a Division I level.
Q: Unrelated to running, what are you guys looking forward to senior year?
SD and SV: Definitely the MAAC championships in Florida this year. We have been looking forward to it for four years, so it is definitely a nice way to culminate and put the cherry on top of our cross country careers.