CINCINNATI — Most college athletes don’t see themselves dropping out of their sport, let alone choosing another. But that’s what happened to Rachel Butler, when she made the brave decision to quit the sport she loved due to injury. Along the way, she discovered a new passion.
What do you want to know
- Rachel Butler came to Xavier’s to play soccer
- But after a series of concussions, she knew she had to step away from the sport she loved
- Butler wasn’t ready to step away from competition, so after her football coach encouraged her, she joined the cross-country team that fall as a senior.
- In Butler’s first-ever cross-country race, she won first place
Butler grew up with the soccer ball at his feet. But now she’s swapping her cleats for tennis shoes.
“I never thought I would be a runner,” Butler said. “But here we are.”
Senior Xavier never wanted to give up football, but after a series of concussions she felt she had no choice.
“I knew in my heart it wasn’t worth it,” she said. “As mentally and just for my overall health, I knew I had to get away from it.”
So now, instead, she finds herself on the same field, training for cross-country.
“It’s cool to see that I’m still able to save time on this pitch. I love it so much and I wasn’t really ready to part with it,” Butler said. “Although it might not be what I wanted at first, I love where I am right now. .”
Butler said his football coach came up with the idea.
“He connected me,” she said. “He was like why don’t you do something, why don’t you try something that you really like to do? And I was like I don’t really know if I like running.
But after training all summer, she now says she loves the sport.
“It’s not as difficult as I expected,” Butler said. “It’s cool. I’m excited to see where I go from here.
Now she runs 50-60 miles every week. Although Butler says she’s still struggling to keep up, it didn’t hurt her in her first-ever cross-country race, crossing the finish line first.
“I crossed the finish line and burst into tears,” she said. “I just didn’t know!”
Now Butler knows she has what it takes to be one of the best. But that doesn’t mean she still doesn’t have a hard time with the fact that she doesn’t play football.
“The first few weeks, I found it quite difficult to be there,” she said. “Like coming and knowing that you really didn’t have the opportunity to go out on the pitch. So it was tough with that.”
But she said one of the biggest lessons she’s learned is sharing that struggle.
“Just by exposing what I was struggling with, I learned to face some of those adversities and take them and turn them into the best possible outcome,” Butler said.
Now in the shadow of her football career, she has a new mindset.
“Building a program on two different sides is really cool,” Butler said. “And that’s a different perspective you have.”