In The Locker Room with Heather Benway, Soccer Forward, Track Jumper


Photo Courtesy of Lex Escobedo

Heather Benway dribbles in a game against Denison University

Second-year women’s soccer player Heather Benway was named North Coast Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year on Nov. 10 for her outstanding performance this season. In addition to soccer, she is also on the track and field team. Though undecided, Benway is planning to major in Neuroscience and minor in Cognitive Science.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

When did you start playing soccer?

I think starting when I was five, I did a lot of recreational stuff until fifth or sixth grade, then I started doing club and eventually was a part of my high school team. I think I might technically be a walk-on for soccer at Oberlin, because I emailed the coach after I got into school.

How has your team impacted your time and your experience here?

It’s made it a lot better. With our new coach, I feel like the team morale and just how close we are off the field has really increased. Everyone has fun at practice, and we all try to hang out outside of practice too. It’s a little different now out of season, but I think just having those connections is really important. If you see anyone on the team on campus, you always say hi to each other. Especially coming in as a first-year, having that foundation of friends was really important. My roommate now, second-year Zoe Garver, was one of my first friends on the team last year. If I didn’t have the team, my experience would obviously be a lot different here.

When did you start track?

I started doing track in middle school, and then I did it freshman and sophomore year of high school. Junior year, I had decided not to do it just because of the junior year workload, and then COVID-19 hit. Senior year I only did soccer — because of COVID, that got moved to the spring season, so I picked soccer over track.

Were you a walk-on for track?

I joined at the end of the soccer season last year because the jumps coach had seen some of the soccer games. He had also talked to former Women’s Soccer Head Coach Dan Palmer last year, and he could tell from my running form that my hamstrings were messed up. Basically, he said he could help me improve my running form. I definitely have since joining the team, and I think I improved some of my time so I could get faster for soccer too. I also did long jump for track, which I think is my favorite event. For indoor, I did long jump and the 60-meter — basically the shortest sprint — and then for outdoor, I did long jump and the 4×100-meter relay.

What are you looking forward to for track season?

Track is much more individual; I really love the track team, and there’s usually a team aspect to all the track meets to get points, but I think sometimes it’s nice to kind of have that time to focus on my personal improvement. I’m just looking forward to getting a little bit better, especially in long jump — I did it in high school, but because we didn’t have a long jump coach, I didn’t really improve that much. Last year, I improved a lot over the season. We had a lot of fourth-years last year who were really good at long jump, then the relay was three fourth-years and me. It’ll be interesting to kind of rebuild that as a second-year, but also as the oldest person on the team for some of those things. There’s third-years who do long jump, but at least for the relay, I’m gonna be the only person who’s done it before.

Do you think that you’ll explore new events, or are you just going to stick to the ones you have been doing?

In terms of jumps, I’m pretty sure I’m only gonna have one just because all of the jumps involve really different types of technique, but I know the coach talked a little bit about expanding what I would do in sprints. I’m not sure if I wanted to do that just because I did the 200-meter in high school, again with not much training. But I think it would be interesting with good training and practice to see how that would go.