Running or soccer or both? Senior Sophie Cowart loves and excels at both sports

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 2, 2023

By Jay Spivey
For the Clemmons Courier

Senior Sophie Cowart didn’t run in middle school when she went to Saint Leo, but she is running now at West Forsyth — and flourishing while doing it.
Cowart, like sisters Delaney, who graduated from West Forsyth in 2017, and Katie, who graduated in 2019, played soccer for the Titans. Younger sister, Mary Grace, who is 16, plays field hockey.
“My family has been a soccer family, pretty much,” Sophie Cowart said. “And then before high school, I was like, ‘I’m going to try to meet some people,’ and ‘Maybe I’ll stay in shape for soccer and try to do some running.’
“And that turned out to be a good idea. And I met a lot of good friends. And now I prioritize running over soccer.”
Cowart, who primarily runs the 1,000-meter, the mile, and the 4,x800 relay for the West Forsyth’s indoor track-and-field team, didn’t start running until the summer before her freshman year at West Forsyth.
“I tried to do both soccer and cross country for a while, but then I realized my body could not handle that because I kept on getting injured with shin splints and stuff like that.”
Cowart ran the 1,000 at 3.19.62 last Saturday at the Mondo Elite Invitational at JDL Fast Track. In the 1,600, also at the Mondo Elite, she ran 5:36.09. However, this past Monday at the Spartan Last chance meet, which is outdoors at Mount Tabor, she ran the 1,600 at 5:34.94.
“I think that’s one of the things from being a parent from my own kids going through all this is you learn — we all want to excel in athletics. We all want our children to excel, but what you really want them to do is to just be happy and to enjoy the process,” said Nathan Newsome, the track-and-field coach at West Forsyth. “I learned early-on when my own children went through a big part of that, especially with running, with distance running, probably with any sport, especially with that is, it’s social.
“You pretty much talk the whole time. Running is hard. You can dress it up however you want to. The bottom line is that it’s hard, and then go out and run miles and miles and miles.”
Whether it be social or competitive, Cowart has found a way for it work for both ways.
“I realized I had to pick one. I was doing so good with running, and I had so many new friends, I picked running. But now, I’m doing just school soccer in the spring and not club soccer year-round.”
With the end of the indoor track-and-field season coming next week with the NCHSAA Class 4-A championship at JDL Fast Track, and girls soccer practice and outdoor track-and-field starting Feb. 13, Cowart has a decision to make.
“A lot of my friends are injured for the last season of indoor track, so because that will be my last season with them, I don’t know if I want to keep on doing spring track, or to do soccer,” Cowart said. “I’m still debating on that. It’s coming up soon.”
Cowart has thought about asking Newsome, and Coach Scott Bilton, the girls soccer coach at West Forsyth, if it’s possible to do both.
“I think my friends have tried that in previous years, and it’s just never really works out,” Cowart said. “So, it is an option, but it’s not a good option. I need to pick one or the other.”
Cowart has progressed each season as a runner at West Forsyth. And Cowart’s decision is strictly hers.
“Those are decisions the kids have to make,” Newsome said. “I have not weighed in on it in any way because I think when you look back on it that’s a decision that they’ve got to make. If it turns out they choose the route that you were suggesting in any way was not successful, or at least they process it as it wasn’t then it might always feel that way.
My thing that I encourage is try it. You might like it. I try not to discourage kids from doing anything. But nobody has been able to master being two places at once.”
For either Cowart or Newsome to stay neutral is hard for both to do. The Newsomes and the Cowarts are close friends. Cowart’s best friend is Blair Newsome, who is Newsome’s daughter, a freshman at Wake Forest. “I think it’s close to like a father-daughter relationship because I ran with his daughter last year. She just graduated,” Sophie Cowart said. “And I’m best friends with her. So, I’ll just come over to his house, and I’ll be, ‘Oh, hey.’
“And he’s also my art teacher. So, I see him in art, and I see him at my friend’s house. I see him when I’m running. We’re just really close.”
One of Nathan Newsome’s best friends is Cowart’s father, Terry, who is his running partner. Both families have four children — three girls and a boy in the Newsome family and four girls in the Cowart family.
“(Cowart) is about as positive as one could be,” Newsome said. “Sophie is just a positive kid from top to bottom. There’s not a negative thing to say about her. She’s goes with the flow, easy-going. She’s a good student, she’s a good athlete. She’s good at whatever she puts her mind to.”
Whether Cowart runs outdoor track or plays soccer this spring, Newsome has enjoyed coaching and teaching her.
“Obviously, from a parent’s standpoint, for my own child to have a friend like Sophie is awesome,” Newsome said. “You want your children to be around other kids who have it together and are positive, on the ball. Can’t say enough good stuff about Sophie.”
If Cowart elects to run in the spring, she could choose to go in many directions for college.
“I have so many friends (at West Forsyth), and we’re all going in different directions,” she said. “So, it will be a big adjustment to whatever I’m doing.”