PALATINE, Ill. – Harper cross country and track and field athlete Stephanie Chaires (Palatine, Ill./Christian Liberty) nearly gave up running due to a frustrating injury that wouldn't seem to go away. However, coach Jim Macnider encouraged Chaires to continue rehabbing because he saw the potential in her.
He saw potential in her to not only be a great Harper Hawk athlete, but to be good enough to get a college scholarship after Harper. Chaires finally got healthy and developed into an even better runner in her sophomore season, and because of that she will now run for Biola University in La Mirada, California.
|Chaires will continue her collegiate running career at Biola University in La Mirada, California.|
Biola University is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and a member of the Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC). Chaires was drawn to the school for a variety of reasons.
"I heard it was a good school, so I reached out to the school and everything just fell in place," Chaires said. "I love how the school will encourage me to grow in my faith, how committed the track and field and cross country programs are, and how challenging the academics seem."
Chaires graduated from Harper with an Associate in Arts degree and will major in business with concentration on management and marketing at Biola. She plans on using that degree to either start a business, work in a health/wellness related job, or work with kids.
Chaires' list of accomplishments in her time at Harper College is a lengthy one, starting on the academics side. Chaires received an NJCAA Award for Exemplary Academic Achievement, an award given to student-athletes who have a GPA between 3.60-3.79 on a 4.00 scale. She was also an N4C Academic All-Conference student-athlete in both her years at Harper.
Athletically, she finished her Hawks track and field career this May with a strong showing at the 2015 NJCAA Division III Women's Outdoor Track & Field Championship. She placed fourth in the nation in the 1500m and fifth in the 5k and also helped the 4x400m relay team finish in fourth.
In the fall, Chaires placed 16th at the 2014 DIII Cross Country National Championships and her team took second place, best in school history. She gives credit for her success to the tandem of Macnider and assistant coach Eric Wallor.
"They were the two coaches that saw potential in me and pushed me to what I didn't think I was capable of doing," she said. "I'm blessed to have them."
Things seemed bleak last spring as Chaires sat out the entire season due to a foot injury she sustained back in the summer of 2013. She placed 23rd at the 2013 DIII Cross Country National Championships despite battling injury.
Prior to the injury, Chaires was a big part of the Hawks track and field team's success in the spring of 2013. She was a member of the 4x800m relay team that took home a national title, was a member of a fifth place 4x400m relay team, and took fourth individually in the 1500m.
Before her running career at Harper started, Chaires was a First Team All-Region midfielder for the Hawks' soccer team in 2012 and helped the team win a regional title and place sixth in the nation.
Reminiscing on her time at Harper, Chaires is grateful for her entire experience.
"I'm grateful for all my business teachers and my classes. I feel prepared academically because of the great teachers I had. Their goal is to help you succeed," she said. I don't feel anxious and feel completely prepared going into the (cross country) season, and I will most definitely miss all the amazing people and friends I have made along the way."