Since Littlewing was formed in 2013, the Bend training group has steadily gained in experience, momentum, and wisdom. Its founding athletes (Mel Lawrence, Betsy Flood, Christine Babcock, and Lauren Fleshman) established the Littlewing culture up front: prioritize health of body, mind, and spirit; work to advance access to sport and health for all communities, especially to those who have been historically excluded; and understand that growth comes from within.
By 2019, Littlewing had established as a 501c-3 and expanded its roster to 6 athletes: Rebecca Mehra, founding athlete Mel Lawrence, Madeline Strandemo, Sadi Henderson, Carrie Mack, and Collier Lawrence, with Lauren Fleshman coaching. It was a breakout year. And even though 2020 has been so different than anyone expected, these athletes have been training hard and setting PR's.
Now, Littlewing is absolutely thrilled to be welcoming their newest athlete: middle-distance standout and stellar human being, Angel Piccirillo. Let's hear from Angel on her big move!
We are so very excited you'll be joining Littlewing! Can you let us know a bit about your decision making process?
It wasn’t an easy process but one I have been thinking about for a long time. I have been in Pennsylvania my entire life so for my first move out of state to be almost as far away as possible felt a little daunting. That being said, my fiancé moved to a different hemisphere on the other side of the world, alone, at the age of 18, so the perspective helps… We both felt as though the time to transition to a new training situation was coming, and earlier on, pre-Olympic postponement and pre-wedding postponement this felt like it would be the right time- a natural clean break. Then COVID happened and everything we thought 2020 would bring changed. It was hard at first, and we had to make the difficult decision to postpone our wedding, but in the end, this period of time together, away from our normal lives, presented a lot of time to reflect and really re-evaluate the parts of our “normal” life that we felt were benefitting us and the places we could grow. I love the women I trained with and I love Philadelphia, but I knew it was time for a change, regardless of maybe less than ideal circumstances (moving during a pandemic...). One of the other things that was working for me was Oiselle. So how do you get more Oiselle? Join a Oiselle-sponsored group with a group of badass women, coached by a badass woman!
Philly -> Bend is a big move! Will there be culture shock? What are some things you're excited about and nervous for?
Yes and no. Philly and Bend are probably about as different as two cities can get, so there will definitely be some culture shock there. The demographics are REALLY different, and the general geography is really different. I will be joining a very small population of black people in Bend, whereas the Philly population is about 44% black. However, where I grew up (Homer City) and went to college (Villanova) were both much less diverse with the large majority of the population being white. I have existed and thrived in both scenarios, so I feel like that has prepared me well. I am EXCITED to try to bring some spark and Philly passion and commitment to the BLM movement with me to Bend! But I’m really looking forward to the change in geography! I’ve never really been around mountains or the same kind of national parks or even the trees associated with the Pacific Northwest! I won’t lie though, I am nervous about the altitude! I have never been at altitude (besides briefly in Albuquerque, New Mexico) so I am so interested to see how I respond. Then there’s the driving…I’ve become accustomed to high stress, aggressive, New York, Philly, Jersey driving. I’m interested to see what Oregon driving is like- I’m prepared to tame myself down…hahaha.
Tell us your views on running for women coaches (Gina Procaccio is of course a legend!).
I LOVE having a female coach. It’s so much more than I can express in words, but the female perspective is so valuable in sport but particularly track and field and distance running. Needless to say, the immeasurable value of having a woman coach who has competed at the highest levels of the sport is a big bonus. I ADORE Gina. She’s such a badass and one of the toughest women I know so I am so excited to start working with Lauren because I think she has a lot of the same really positive qualities. I think a group of all women coached by a woman is such a strong model!
Littlewing event focus is a little different than your prior training group (of 800m superstars) - we've got 800m on the short end all the way up to marathon. What do you anticipate will be an adjustment for you, training-wise?
Like I mentioned, I think the altitude of Bend and the altitude training trips will be a huge adjustment. The women I trained with in Philly are AMAZING. They are all extremely talented, supportive and loving women. I will miss them so much but I knew I needed a change. There are so many good qualities those speedy, decorated women had but I am excited to work within a group with this much variance. I think I’ll have a lot to offer but SO much to gain. I know there are some weaknesses I have that will definitely be exposed haha but I can’t wait. I love having room for growth!
We so value your voice and the way you share your story. What have you found of value to you in the Oiselle community and Volée team?
I LOVE this community. Unfortunately, this year hasn’t gone to plan so I haven’t been able to attend nearly the number of events or meet-ups with the wonderful Volée team the way I would have hoped but nevertheless, the community has been so supportive of me! The information I shared in the blog posts via Oiselle was very personal to me and I received nothing but support and love. I wouldn’t have been able to share my story with so much strength or confidence without their support. I am beyond excited to be closer to Oiselle HQ and continue to learn and be pushed by this dynamic, diverse, and supportive community. I can’t wait to see what next year brings for us all! ☺
Coach Lauren Fleshman:
"I'm so honored Angel is crossing the country and making such a big life change to be a part of Littlewing this year. Her warmth and authenticity was apparent the first time I met her. It pours out in her writing. In the way she connects with people. In the way she carries herself. I can't wait to watch from the front row how that comes to life on the track, and in our community. She's got a lot of important tools for success as a professional runner, and I'm excited to dig in with her!"