Image Courtesy of Anna Walcutt
By Caroline Morris
Most people would not see a connection between running track and practicing the Catholic faith, but to Anna Walcutt, the two are inextricably linked.
Walcutt, a member of the class of 2022, started running track in the third grade, so she has spent more than half of her life dedicated to the sport. But when she came to Catholic University freshman year, she did not anticipate running for the university’s team.
“When I first came here, I became friends with athletes,” Walcutt said. “I saw them kind of balancing this dynamic life on campus where they were able to do faith and service and athletics and academics and do them all to their fullest capability.”
Seeing these fellow students participating in every area that they cared about without having to sacrifice one for the other inspired Walcutt to believe that track and field could be part of her college career. She realized that she did not have to give up the faith and service that drew her to Catholic U in order to be an athlete.
Walcutt has definitely succeeded in her goal of having a hand in all the activities she loves. She is a double major in Theology & Religious Studies and Psychology with a certificate in pastoral ministry; she is a Resident Minister for Campus Ministry, runs track, and participates in service.
But much of this would not be possible if not for the environment of Catholic U. The university has so many opportunities to practice faith and service in ways that are so accessible to the students that it makes balancing academics, athletics, faith, service, and social life possible.
“If I went to a different school I don’t think I’d be running track,” Walcutt said.
What truly defines Walcutt as an athlete and particularly as a track star is her connection to her faith. Beyond inspiration from other student-athletes, Walcutt was most moved by God to run in college because of persistent thoughts that she should be on the track team.
“In Adoration, [the thought] came up again and I tried to push it off… but it kept coming up, so in those moments it’s like ‘this might be God trying to tell me something,’ and I kind of realized I was being called to run again,” Walcutt said.
But the connection to faith did not stop with just getting her on the team. Every time Walcutt runs her event, the 400 meters, it is a faith experience.
“I think that the 400 meters is just this race that requires so much trust in your strength and your abilities and your training because it’s a really long race. But you have to start off super fast, and I think the tendency for a lot of people would be to try to save yourself for the end, but in the 400 meter you have to be bold, you have to give your entire self to the beginning of the race… It’s like this test of grit that’s absolutely amazing, and this test of trust, too. You just kind of have to put trust in every single step,” Walcutt said.
“I think this is so easily connected to our faith life. As Christians, we are called to live out the paschal mystery and we’re called to die to self and rise again and kind of recognize that and kind of entrust our entire selves to our faith and try to share our faith life in every aspect of our lives. I think that the 400 meters is this analogy for the faith life, and… throughout that process is definitely practice for the Christian life. You have to do the same things.”
This relationship Walcutt sees between running and faith is symbiotic; growth in one feeds the other.
“It’s so fitting that track season falls within Lent, because as soon as track season starts, my faith life just automatically deepens. I think I really saw that last season. Every single race, before the race, I would write something like a Bible verse or a word on my wrist, and it turned out that whatever lesson I had from the race that day connected to the word and connected to my faith life in general, too.”
Walcutt’s relationship to her sport and her faith is truly beautiful, and it has influenced her and her vision for the future. She now plans to coach track after college because it is the form in which she can best minister to others.
It is not always easy running for track and field. The members practice six days a week, give up weekends for meets, and push themselves to their limits. But Walcutt loves it all.
“Running the 400 meters is literally one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my entire life,” she said. “But it’s also been the best thing of my entire life.”