“The power of a small college.” It’s a catchy slogan Linfield students and faculty come across on a daily basis. Since returning to Linfield after having a baby during her sophomore year, junior cross country star Siena Noe has fully experienced the power of Linfield’s small community.
Staff, community members, students and teammates have offered comfort and support for the 20-year-old single mother of 7-month-old Blaise.
After finding out before sophomore year that she was pregnant, she will admit she was devastated. Her parents thought the pregnancy would result in many missed opportunities for their oldest daughter. However, life for Noe has been far from that with help from Linfield.
After realizing that little Blaise’s father had no intention of being a part of her son’s life, Noe realized there was no reason for her to stay at her parent’s home in Yakima, Wash., and decided it was time to venture back to Linfield.
“Things were not good at home with the dad,” Noe said. “I’m a single mom. I thought the dad would be around and that me staying home would be best for Blaise. When it started looking like he wasn’t going to show interest, I knew I had nothing to keep me home at that point. And that’s when I started emailing Linfield.”
Noe never expected to be back at school after what she had gone through. She knew it was going to be difficult getting back on track, but she knew it was the best thing for her and her son.
“I didn’t think it was realistic,” Noe said. “Linfield has been really great about me trying to come back here and everything with my baby. I emailed some people trying to see if my academic scholarship was still applicable if I came back, which it was.”
Noe also never foresaw that a former boss would eventually be renting out of her home to her. Eileen Allen provided Noe with the opportunity to rent a bedroom from her home and occasionally look after Blaise when needed.
“I got really lucky when my work-study boss from freshman year, Eileen Allen, found out I was trying to come back [to Linfield],” Noe said. “I needed a place to stay where Blaise could come with me, and she offered me a place for really cheap. If she hadn’t offered me a place to stay, that would have been the deal-breaker.”
Allen watches Blaise when Noe has 6:40 a.m. cross country workouts and when Blaise’s nanny is not available.
“I managed to find a nanny who was trying to open her own in-home daycare,” Noe said. “I was her first customer, so I got priority and Blaise gets to hog her schedule.
“She covers me during all my classes on Monday through Thursday,” Noe said. “It’s super nice because she lives right across from Linfield, so I can dart over there whenever I need to breast-feed. She’s really great and Blaise loves her.”
Between Allen and the nanny, there are still times when Noe needs a babysitter in order to make it to practice and meets and finish homework for her communication arts major and Spanish minor. She is lucky enough to have constant offers to watch Blaise free of charge.
“I have some of my friends from the team who watch him on Fridays,” Noe said. “Everyone here, especially my team, has been really supportive. There is no way I would have been able to pull all this off without their help.
“Everyone has bent over backward to make sure that I’m getting to all my classes and getting enough sleep,” Noe said. “I have people randomly offering to take Blaise free of charge, just so I can take a nap.”
If it weren’t for the generous Linfield community, Noe would not be able to run for the Wildcats like she had trained for all summer.
“Getting back into shape wasn’t fun,” Noe said. “But it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be because I had been itching to go running. Being pregnant, it was really difficult to be told that I couldn’t go running because it would hurt someone else besides me. My doctor told me to wait six weeks after giving birth, but I was back to running by day nine. I was a little stir-crazy.”
She ran until she was six months pregnant, to which she attributes her ease in bouncing back. Noe continued to train all summer long, but is still shocked at how well the season is going for her personally.
“I managed to run first for Linfield two weeks ago,” Noe said. “I have been battling for second and third most of the season. I don’t feel like I am in the shape I am supposed to be in. But I feel like I am keeping up with the girls who have been training more than I did. It makes me pretty optimistic for next season.”
Noe has used the negative energy from her hometown and doubts from many people about her ability to attend college and run cross country with Blaise by her side to fuel her competitive drive.
“I like that it’s just you out there,” Noe said. “When you race, if you have a bad day or a good day, it’s because of you. It’s been all about taking my principles and turning it into my driving force. I kind of knew what my principles were, but they were tested. I have had to solidify my values, which has made it easier to compete and steer my course.”
Noe is grateful for her support system here at Linfield. The Linfield community has truly made it possible for her to be back this fall.
“Being a student athlete and single mom has been no walk in the park,” Noe said. “Being on campus with a ton of kids my own age makes it feel like all of campus is raising Blaise, which is really awesome.”
A lot has changed since sophomore year for Noe, and she is making the most out of her time at Linfield.
“I really have a driving force to finish school and apply myself because I have someone else to take care of. It’s not just me,” Noe said.
Sarah Mason can be reached at
Joel Ray/Senior photographer