Being a two-sport athlete at the collegiate level is challenging. Especially when the two sports share a season. But Brinn Hovde — a member of Linfield’s cross country and women’s golf teams this fall — says she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“My heart’s in two places,” she says. “And I’m giving one hundred percent to both.”
Teammates and coaches agree that, somehow, she is.
Associate head cross country coach Greg Mitchell says of Hovde: “There aren’t many combinations that would allow her to do both, but the timing and flexibility of both sports is just right.”
He’s quick to point out that she’s making it work. Hovde herself says she feels fortunate.
“I looked at the two schedules, and the weekends for cross country meets and fall golf tournaments alternate exactly,” she says with excitement. Even recently, when two events were scheduled on the same day, Hovde was able to step off one bus and immediately climb onto the other. “It worked out perfectly.”
Not surprisingly, her daily schedule is packed. In addition to her daily class load, the senior from Bellingham, Wash., enjoys a run or workout in the morning before golf practice in the afternoon.
Cross country teammate Audrey Lichten admits the expectations of her sport demand a big commitment at the beginning of the season. “But Brinn’s been a part of all our team dinners and meetings, no problem. There’s a lot on her plate, but she handles it very well.”
“She’s done a good job of balancing,” women’s golf coach Brynn Hurdus notes.
Hovde has to. In addition to her two sports, she serves as a Resident Advisor, works as the programs director for Linfield’s radio station, helps with some design features of the Linfield Review, and was recently elected Vice President of the Student Athletic Advisory Council.
“It’s definitely a full load, but I’ve always been the kind who likes to be doing a lot of things,” Hovde says. “I’d rather be busy.”
The senior says it helps that her class load is relatively light. She completed all required credits for her Mass Communications major and Visual Culture minor last year.
Hovde says she’s always been creative. “When I was little, I wanted to be an artist. Since then, I’ve discovered I’m more drawn to graphic design than true art.”
She hopes to work in public relations or in-house advertising for an outdoors- or sports-based company.
“I’m really interested in the everyday art, the kinds of design that people don’t consider art,” she says, remembering the film Helvetica that she saw as a freshman. “Because of that movie, I notice tiny details of design everywhere. Fonts always catch my attention. It drives me crazy sometimes,” she laughs.
That same attention to detail does a lot for her in other areas of her busy life.
“I can always count on her to make sure the other girls know what’s going on. She double-checks our logistics and uniform plans, and communicates them to the other girls,” says Hurdus. “Brinn’s always very willing to step in and help as needed.”
Coaches and teammates alike admire Hovde’s devotion to both teams. Competing in her fourth golf season, the experienced senior is a captain for the five-girl squad.
“She’s really stepped into that leadership role,” says Hurdus. “She does a great job of making sure that everyone feels included.”
“It feels strange to say it’s my first sport, but I came to Linfield specifically to play golf,” Hovde says. “I am a captain, but we’re really more like a family this year. Our golf team is really close.”
Known for its camaraderie, Linfield’s cross country welcomed Hovde with open arms. “Everyone’s been very supportive,” she says.
“Cross country is a little bit weird because I’m a senior, but I’ve never run competitively before. I’m learning everything about running. I can help younger members in some general ways because I have more experience in life, but there are a lot of freshmen and sophomores still showing me the ropes out on the course.”
“She brings a new aspect to the team because she’s a first-timer and a senior. Her enthusiasm is inspiring,” says Lichten. “She’s having fun with it. She keeps it lighthearted and keeps us from getting too competitive.”
Hovde ran her first-ever 5-kilometer race in her hometown during the summer. “On one hand, I wish that I had started sooner. Of course I would like to have spent my whole life running!”
“If she were a freshman, I would be very excited,” Mitchell comments on Hovde’s promise as a runner. “As it is, she’ll still perform very well in her senior season.”
“But on the other hand,” she continues, “I think running came at just the right time in my life.” She started running regularly to relieve stress during a discouraging junior-year spring, and quickly came to relish competing with herself.
“It’s exciting to watch your times go down,” she says with a smile. “I realized how much I loved it and went to talk with Greg last April about joining Linfield’s team. I think he thought I was crazy.”
Mitchell says Hovde’s case is unusual but not unheard of, citing alum Scott Pinske as an example of success in a single senior season.
“I was really impressed with her attitude when she came to talk with me,” Mitchell remembers. “Brinn gave a good sales pitch and she has followed through on her word. She’s been reliable and I’ve seen the effort and commitment on her part.”
Hovde says she doesn’t like to state a preference for one sport over another. “They’re very different. Golf is all about detail and focus, for about six hours at a time. Running is much more physical.”
Fellow golfer Alexandria Smith, who shares a hometown with Hovde, says she can see a difference in her teammate. “Her mental game has really improved, and I think running has had a lot to do with that.”
“They definitely relate to each other,” Hovde says of her two sports. “Competing in both at once is a unique experience and a lot of fun. I haven’t regretted it at all.”
Hurdus says simply, “I’ve been impressed.”
I think we all are.
– Lexy Chapman '15