Heather Stephens


It was my junior year of college at Syracuse. I had just finished 8th at an easy team opener meet at Colgate. 8th was not good enough. I should have been top 5.  

Coach Fox asked me to coffee. "Let's focus on one thing this year, and that is having fun...You won't have this forever."  

"What won't I have forever?" I asked him.  

"A team. College is your chance. So get out of your head, race for your team, and just try to have some fun doing it."  


I mused on that. I pulled my head out the clouds and showed up for my team. And it was a magical season for us. A scrappy group of 7 runners pulled it together, for each other, and finished 10th at NCAA Cross Country Championships. It wasn't first, it wasn't even a podium finish, but it was an accomplishment of a big goal that we set for ourselves. "TCB", we used to say. Take Care of Business. We took care of business that season and on that day. I'll never forget it.  


A year later, we graduated and went off on separate paths. Some continued to chase the dream (shout out to Lauren Penney, Katie Hursey, Sarah Pagano and Maegan Krifchin).





And others went off to pursue different paths off the track. 

It was a floppy time in life for me. I leaned on my team so hard all through high school and college, and now I felt this gaping hole in my life. Feeling angsty in my new coaching position at Georgetown University, I desperately wished that I could find a group of women in Washington, DC. Women who I could call my teammates. The transition from a college team to working with four men was challenging (to say the least). 

Then in the fall of 2014, I was hired to work at the Nest. As I packed up and got ready to move to Seattle, I was excited but terrified…. New place. New people. New job. New coast. Scary! Scary! Scary!  


I felt an immense amount of gratitude for the Oiselle women and Volée. A team again! But the move also stirred up a deep sense of regret. Why had I spent two years of my life without this? Why was this loving community so difficult to find when I was living in Washington, DC? Why couldn’t this feeling exist in all places?  

As we continued to grow the Volée, I watched our loving and supportive community come alive. New team members popped up across the country and in different parts of the world. Running in Oiselle and racing in the singlet. If the opportunity to join the Volée had existed when I was in DC, I would have joined in a heartbeat. I would have had a chance to meet people in a place that felt so lonely to me.  


I am proud to be a part of this community. And so proud to be able to extend the opportunity for others to join. Our collective voices and shared stories give one another strength to be brave. To take risks. To experiment. To step up to start lines everywhere, with our heads up and our wings out.  

It turns out that team doesn't end after high school or college. It's an opportunity that exists for all who seek a singlet and a sisterhood.  

Today we're honored to welcome new members to our team.  



The team is now open! Join the Volée!

April 13, 2017 — jbarnard

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