New UAXC Coach Races Back to her Roots

Ursuline alum, professional runner, and author, Becky Wade Firth ‘07, takes over Ursuline’s winning cross country team this fall. After starting her cross-country career at Ursuline, Coach Becky ran Division 1 cross country and track at Rice University before becoming a professional runner and author.

     She not only shares her expertise with her runners, but also inspires them to set goals and chase them. Coach Becky strives to foster a strong sense of team community and hopes to see every girl improve.

     “I’m in a really cool position to share my experiences with people who are in pretty similar shoes, just a few years behind me. I love reconnecting with Ursuline and the girls through running,” she said.

      During her UAXC days, Coach Becky loved summer training. “It was a really good chance to meet people and find my group before school started…I have really good memories of summer training with girls who are still my good friends,” she said.

     Not only was Coach Becky an excellent runner for UAXC, but she also was a member of Ursuline’s first lacrosse team and was even a founder of Ursuline’s American Sign Language club.

     Ms. Smith, current Journalism teacher, was Coach Becky’s advisor, and Coach Becky was in Mr. Lepley’s first class at Ursuline.

     She studied psychology, sociology, and history at Rice, saying that “Mr. Schneider planted the seeds for studying psychiatry in college.”

     Ursuline Cross Country set Coach Becky up for success at Rice. “I felt like that by the time I got to college, I had a good handle on time management and just balancing things,” she said.

      From an athletic perspective, the low-mileage running in high school gave Becky a leg-up in NCAA running, and Becky said, “I just wasn’t burned out at all when I got to college.” Additionally, Dallas helped Coach Becky accustom “to heat training and working hard in tough conditions.”

    Over the course of her high school and college running careers, Becky learned about teamwork. “I find I am so much better when I am running for a reason beyond myself,” she said.

     After she completed her running career at Rice, Becky ran professionally, and even participated in the Olympic Trials. Today, while her goals have shifted, she hopes to continue training for the marathon. “I want to get everything out of myself in that event,” Becky said, “I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I want to maximize myself.”

     Years of running and competing have contributed to making Coach Becky a better person. “Running has definitely made me disciplined and brought so many great people into my life,” she said, “People that have some of involvement or history as an athlete have a good approach to life—they know how to push themselves, how to set goals and chase them, and how to work in teams.”

     She received the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship and spent a full year travelling the world, immersing herself in different cultures through running. This journey led Coach Becky to write her book, Run the World: My 3,500 Mile Journey Through Running Cultures Around the Globe.

     A former teammate from Coach Becky’s UAXC days went on to become a literary agent in New York, and she followed along as Coach Becky posted about her experiences online. She reached out to her friend when she returned home and asked Becky to write a proposal for a book. Coach Becky shot the idea down.

     “No way,” she said, “I was totally unprepared.”

     But a year or two later, she got back in touch with her old teammate and told her she would give it a try.

     “Writing a book was the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” she said, “I learned that stressors and rough times are never permanent.”

     Now back in Dallas and reconnecting with her Ursuline roots, Coach Becky has one piece of advice for current Ursuline girls. “Choose wisely who you spend your time with,” she said, “Be intentional about meeting people and gravitate towards people who are positive and good influences.”      

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