Street follows road less travelled on path to becoming varsity athlete
Considered the "nan" of the team
By Warren Gordon on July 22, 2013
An important aspect in everyone's life is their name. Sometimes people embrace the name they were given at birth and live up to their family's namesake. Others decide to go against the grain and change their name completely. For Memorial cross country runner Dwan Street, embracing her name is an understatement. Street has pursued her passions of running, social media and her career with a zeal that embodies the spirit of the origin of her name.
“My parents named me after Jessica Lange's character in the 1976 King Kong film,” said Street. “I had not even seen the movie until a few years ago, but, when she pulled into the boat, they ask her about her name. She says her birth name was 'Dawn' but she changed the two middle letters to make it memorable. I have grown to love it [. . .] Most folks think it is a typo, one person even going as far as to ask if my parents are dyslexic.”
While she's not running cross country with Memorial, or dealing with people not being able to spell her name, Street spends her time on Twitter. As an devoted hockey fan, Street says she likes to keep her thoughts about the sport to Twitter’s 140 character limit through her tongue-in-cheek handle of @dwancherry.
“I am an avid Twitter user,” said Street. “I was drawn to Twitter firstly due to the ability to follow athletes and other sports fanatics like myself; and to use it as an outlet to vent my hockey frustrations in 140 characters. I am a bit of a hockey fanatic and have met some fabulous people via Twitter. I enjoy the more lax atmosphere as compared to other social media outlets and the ability to follow some of my heroes. [As well as,] being able to keep on top of NHL free agency and the trade deadline when at work. Go Pens.”
As of recent years, Twitter has become an outlet for sports fans, athletes, celebrities and, in fact, anyone from anywhere in the world. Street believes that the 140 character limited social media outlet is important to pro athletes.
“The most fascinating part is being able to follow your athletic idols and see they are as human as the rest of us,” said Street. “They train, they have lives, families, have good times, bad times and also have advice to share with the rest of us. Seeing that some of the most superhuman athletes have a mortal side is refreshing when you get back from that terrible run.”
Street says that beyond the Twitterverse and cross country trail, she has faced another challenge that is not uncommon for university students – the decision of what career field to pursue.
“Staying positive and not quitting when things get rough,” said Street on her biggest challenge that she has faced thus far. “I have chosen a field of academia that does not have a great employment record—fisheries policy analysis. It has been hard to have worked to achieve my academic goals only to play the waiting game, career-wise. They say good things come to those who wait, so I feel the wait might just payoff.”
She says that she could not stay positive without the help of her family and friends.
“I could not stay positive, however, without the help of my fabulous parents, amazing supportive best friends, my coach and my partner,” said Street. “When times get rough, I can always look to them for supportive words and reminders as to why I chose my field and to stay in the province I love dearly. And my fat dog, Sid. He's a pretty good listening buddy.”
Like a lot of Memorial students, Street says that she once looked up to the Sea-Hawks athletes and drew inspiration from them. It was from here that she was drawn to cross country running.
“I first fell in love with running at age 23, in my final year of undergrad and tipping the scales at nearly 200 lbs,” said Street. “I needed a change and an activity I could take part in during my busy school and work schedules. I wanted to live a healthier lifestyle. Yet, never did I believe running would become a competitive sport for me. As I began to become a stronger runner, I longed to be one of the Sea-Hawk girls who I would see running from the PE building as I made my way to the gym. The outdoors, the mud, the competitiveness and the team aspect all drew me in. I never dreamed I would ever wear the uniform, let alone run well enough to travel, but here I am, 31 years old off my rookie season.”
Street says that her coach has also been an inspiration for her in her rookie season.
“I cannot thank coach Art Meaney enough for pushing me outside of my comfort zone and reassuring me that I could do it,” said Street. “He has always been an inspiration to me and I will be indebted to him forever.”
Cross country running may seem like an individual effort on the athlete's part, but in fact it is a collaborative effort. Street says that she gets the drive to compete from team efforts.
“I love knowing that I helped contribute to making the team successful,” said Street. “Cross country is a very team oriented sport as you are all out there to achieve the best score for your team, rather than your individual self. Knowing that not working hard will let the team down gives me an extra push to give more in my workouts.”
Street says that the best advice she can give to aspiring Sea-Hawks is to never give up.
“Never say never,” said Street. “I came to the sport late and thought my time to wear Sea-Hawks red and white was long past. I never believed I was strong enough to be a varsity athlete. When Art suggested I give the team a try, I was very hesitant, but will always be glad I took the chance. At 30 years old, I became a varsity athlete—and have always joked that I am the 'nan' of the team—making friendships that will last a lifetime and allowing me to push myself to limits I never dreamed possible. Never believe you are not good enough to tryout for your sport. Follow your passion and I can guarantee every other athlete on that team will be welcoming as they were once rookies too. Work hard and you will see results. If I could go back and tell my 23 year old, 200 lb self that in 7 years I would be travelling with a varsity running team and in the best shape of my life, I'm not sure it would have been believed. If I can do it, you can do it. Just work hard, stay focussed and everything will fall into place. Listen to nan.”
Warren Gordon is the Sports Editor at The Muse and the host of The Party on Memorial University's campus radio station 93.5 CHMR-FM.