2012-06-07 / News

Islander caps off college career

Erin Brennan graduates as record holder from UNCW
BY MARGO SULLIVAN


Islander Erin Brennan recently finished second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Colonial Athletic Association Cross-Country Championships. Brennan, who recently graduated from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, is the school’s record holder in the event. 
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE UNCW ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT Islander Erin Brennan recently finished second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Colonial Athletic Association Cross-Country Championships. Brennan, who recently graduated from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, is the school’s record holder in the event. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE UNCW ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT Erin Brennan is going to keep running.

Brennan graduated from college May 12 with a fistful of academic and athletic honors. The former North Kingstown High School standout made her mark in a Division-I program, and it was that experience, she said, that has changed her whole outlook on sports and on life.

But she’s not done.

Brennan was the cross-country captain and set a school record this season. She holds the 3,000-meter steeplechase record at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She was also named most valuable player for two years running in both cross-country and in track and field.

When asked about getting the opportunity to be part of a top program, Brennan said, “I was very lucky. It was a privilege. It’s something a lot of people aspire to do, and I was lucky enough to have the talent.”

Brennan said she wasn’t sure in high school if she had what it would take to perform at a Division I school. She wasn’t even sure if she wanted to continue running in college.

“I was good in Rhode Island terms,” she said – somewhat of an understatement. While at NKHS, Brennan made first-team All-State and was “an essential part,” according to her mother, Mary, of a team that won two state championships.

But that was Rhode Island, Brennan said. “I wasn’t sure that would translate into being competitive at a Division-I school. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to run.”

Then in her senior year, UNCW recruited her.

“It just happened,” Brennan said. She went down to Wilmington and visited.

“I fell in love with the school,” she said. The campus hugs the North Carolina coast and is “15 minutes away from the beach.”

And the weather was not like New England. “It didn’t snow once the whole four years I was there,” she said.

She worked hard, of course. Along with “a lot” of running, Brennan strength trained three times a week and also did yoga.

For distance running, she said that flexibility is really important. She added that the workload really taught her time management.

Back at home for the summer, she is taking a little break from running, but is likely to enter the Blessing of the Fleet race in Galilee at the end of July, a 10-mile road race that attracts more than 3,000 runners annually. She added that she might show up in a couple of 5K races, also.

But for now, it’s time for a rest. “I’m going to give my muscles a break,” she said.

Brennan plans to stick to amateur races and not turn professional, due to the nature of the sport.

“It’s a hard sport to go professional,” she said. “It’s not incredibly popular relative to other sports.” As a result, the sponsorships and prizes are not abundant. Brennan also doubts she’d be able to maintain the “level of fitness” she’d need to be a professional.

“It’s not something I’ve thought about,” she said. But even though her collegiate career is now behind her, Brennan says she still has some goals.

She’s never run a marathon, for example, and said she might like to try that someday – or at least run a half marathon. That type of endurance running isn’t her event, so it would be a challenge.

She also may look at triathlons. Newport has a small one, she said. These events combine swimming, running and biking. Typically, the event includes a half-mile swim, a 5K road race, and a 10-mile bike race. Her parents are her models for this event, she said. Her mother is a swimmer and her father bikes.

For the summer, Brennan is working as a lifeguard at Mackerel Cove but is putting off the search for a permanent job until the fall.

“I haven’t thought too much about work,” she said. She was an English major with a concentration in professional writing and a minor in journalism. She said she may look for work with a magazine or in public relations. Or she might try to combine her sports background with public relations.

Brennan graduated cum laude from UNC at Wilmington. She likes authors John Irving, Kurt Vonnegut and Barbara Kingsolver.

Brennan also served as secretary of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. She ran cross-country and indoor and outdoor track all four years in college.

Brennan came in second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Colonial Athletic Association Cross-Country Championship last month. She was named to the allconference team for her performance.

Brennan moved to Jamestown at age 3 and was raised on the island. She attended both Jamestown schools. She has one sister, a year younger, who is studying nutrition at University of Rhode Island.

Return to top