Athlete Spotlight on Julia Philp: The Fear Conqueror

Shannon DiCristina, Journalism Student

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How many people can say that fear actually motivates them to do something great? Not many at all. But Julia Philp is one in a million, and using fear as a motivator is only one of the qualities that sets her apart from the rest. Before Julia learned to conquer fear, she was known as a shy, quiet little girl, but Julia could only fit into that role for so long until she knew she had more to offer. “I wanted to try something new, to go outside my comfort zone.” This new ambition was a catalyst for her to jump start into the world of trying something new. As a child, she was always a good singer, so for her, that was a great way for her to pave the way for her life with confidence. Julia was never truly able to sing in front of others. It wasn’t until she was fed up with being afraid that she started exploiting her singing talent. This risk paid off for Julia, as she was not only accepted into chamber choir, but she was also selected to sing the national anthem at varsity sporting events for Wayne Valley.

As great of a singer as she is, people know Julia more for her sprinting. The confidence that she acquired through conquering her fear of singing in front of people, is what afforded her the courage to start sprinting. This is where Julia made herself known. While conquering fear, Julia broke two records and won ten medals! Perhaps, Fear was not able to catch up to her incredibly swift pace.
As a record breaking athlete, Julia credits much of her success to her coaches, claiming that “[they] have really helped me so much, from giving me confidence to move forward after a hard practice or just encouraging me to never give up.” On the other hand, the head girls’ track coach, Mr. Schulman, claims Julia’s success is due to the fact that, “Julia is not scared to work hard, and that will allow her to keep getting better.” The hard work, Coach Schulman mentioned, really paid off during her record breaking freshman year.

Julia made her big debut while beating the freshman record for the 400 meter race, setting the new record at 61.56 seconds. One little known fact is that she actually broke the record twice. In another race, she broke the record that she set. Of course, the 400 meter race is not as easy as Julia makes it look. Julia describes the experience: “While running, it feels like all the muscles in your body are breaking. You can’t breathe and all you want to do is stop. But, you don’t because at the end of [the race] you feel so accomplished. It is one of the best and worst feelings in the world.”

The second record Julia Philp broke, was with the help of her teammates Samantha Hohmann, Victoria Falso, and Carson Thomas. Together, they broke the freshman 4 by 400 record. In 4 by 400, more commonly referred to as a “4 by 4”, there are four runners on a team. One member on the team will start the race with a baton; they run 400 meters then pass the baton the the next member. This continues until all four runners have run. The team with the fastest time gets first place.

Before racing this event, Coach Schulman’s words rang true when the girls worked extremely hard to break this record. Julia remembers all the hard work she put into practice in order to achieve this goal. Together, the girls finished the race in 4:52 minutes. This memory is one Julia is very found of: “My favorite memory from sports was when three other girls and I broke the freshman 4 by 400 record and we all couldn’t stop jumping up and down because we were all so happy.” To add to her successes in the relay races, Julia also competed in the 4 by 100 in the state championship.

Julia plans on really excelling this year in winter and spring track, and will “prepare [her]self by practicing everyday and giving 110% effort in everything” she does.

Not only can Julia define her successes in her records and achievements, but also the people she touched along the way. Her teammates have nothing but praise for her. Gabby Gonella says, “she always knows how to cheer anyone up and can put a smile on anyone’s face. She has an amazing personality and is such a genuine person.” As you can see, they all believe she is a hard worker, and never hesitates to help anyone succeed.

When asked if there is any advice Julia would give it would be to, “Do one thing that scares you everyday,” because in the end, the only thing stopping you from doing something great is yourself. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Julia Philp was able to accomplish so much because she didn’t let fear stop her, and that is not an easy task, that is what makes her truly exceptional.

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