GVSU's Stacey Metzger named GLIAC Freshman of the Year
Metzger credits teammates, faith for her early success
At the beginning of the sixth grade, a young Stacey Metzger wanted to be a soccer player.
Her mom told her she would have to run for soccer conditioning, and Metzger laughed it off and told her mom she would never do that. That same year she ended up joining a sport that is all running—cross country.
Fast forward eight years later, she’s still running, and has been awarded the 2016 GLIAC Women’s Freshman of the Year award after the Grand Valley State men's and women's cross country teams swept the GLIAC Championships Saturday, Oct. 22.
Metzger, from Fort Wayne, Indiana, prepped at Carroll High School and placed 14th in the 1,600-meter at the 2015 IHSAA State Championships.
It was then that she was recruited by GVSU, and Lakers’ coach Jerry Baltes had a huge hand in that.
“I’m buddies with her high school coach, so he kind of opened the door for us to her as far as getting to know her,” Baltes said. “I remember watching her at a couple high school races, and she performed really well, so then it was just a matter of getting her on campus for a visit.”
Metzger went on that visit, and while she visited other schools in Indiana and Ohio, she knew GVSU was the right fit.
“I came on a recruiting visit, and I fell in love with the team and the campus and pretty much everything about GVSU,” Metzger said. “Once I was done visiting, I was pretty set on ending up at GVSU.”
Metzger is majoring in clinical exercise science and wants to work in the physical therapy field.
As far as Metzger’s reaction to receiving the award, she was fairly surprised.
“I really wasn’t expecting that. I knew I had a chance to, but it was still surprising to hear,” she said. “It was exciting to know that all my hard work paid off.”
Metzger had nagging injuries and was banged up for a good portion of last season, so she redshirted her first year in Allendale. Baltes said Metzger has taken a great step forward this season, and that she’s really stepped up and moved into the top three runners on the team.
Coming off that season riddled with injuries, Metzger said she had a pretty good summer of training and knew she was in shape.
“I think taking things day-by-day, working to the best of my ability, and having faith in my coaches and their training that they’ve had for us has allowed me to get to this point,” she said.
Metzger said she’s been really fortunate to have good coaches from middle school all the way to college, and that her coaches have believed in her, which has allowed Metzger to do the same.
Metzger didn’t seem to struggle with her confidence coming into this season because of her injuries. For Metzger, having the support of her teammates has been key, especially her roommate and teammate, Kelly Haubert.
“Kelly and I, throughout the season and in almost every race, ended up running next to each other,” Metzger said. “That’s really helped me mentally to get through the races, with us pushing each other through the tough parts.”
As the season progressed, Metzger’s placements seemed to improve. She placed 24th at the Spartan Invitational, a setback of 56th place in the Greater Lousiville Classic, sixth in the Lewis Conference Crossover, and seventh overall in the GLIAC Championships.
Metzger’s biggest goal for the rest of this cross country season is to help the team place well at nationals this year. Metzger also wants to be the teammate that is encouraging and supportive, which Baltes said is a characteristic she owns.
“Stacey is just a really, really nice person and a great teammate,” Baltes said. “As a competitor, she’s just one of those go-about-your-business runners. She puts the work in and gets the job done once the gun goes off. There’s nothing flashy about her, she’s just very solid with a blue-collar work attitude.”
Regarding her mentors, Metzger says her faith has a huge impact on her life and her running, and she knows that her talent has not only come through hard work, but that it’s God-given. Metzger also credits her parents as having a big influence.
“They’ve always been supportive and try to make it to as many meets as they can, even if it’s out of state, so they really help motivate me,” she said.
Metzger said she tries to be the best person she can be, whether it be in school or running, with friends or teammates, she wants to make a positive impact on those around her.
“Stacey receiving the Freshman of the Year award means you have someone that’s at the top of their game early on in their career,” Baltes said. “Hopefully this means she has another three years of big things in front of her.”