Millie Howard became a runner by chance.
Now, the Temple freshman aspires to run in the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.
Not only was her start in the sport accidental, but she also never pictured herself as a runner. She was a serious dancer before her start in track, training six or seven days a week. Her competitive running career didn’t start until her freshman year of high school.
“My friend actually dropped out of the 1500-meter race before it started and asked me to do it instead,” Howard said. “I did it by accident and actually enjoyed it. A coach from school picked me up and that’s how I started.”
Most Division I athletes have been training in their sport since they could walk, but the North Yorkshire, England native is a little bit different.
While Howard’s running career started later than many of her peers, it didn’t take her long to catch up. This summer, she earned a gold medal in the 800-meter in the England Schools Championship, and a bronze medal in the England Athletics Under 20 Championship, also in the 800-meter race. Her late start to running also helped her stay in the best shape to compete at the collegiate level.
“I think it is crucial for an athlete to be in a position to run their best races in their early 20s, and not be burnt out or injury prone,” said Kieron Hall, Howard’s previous coach. “Millie has positioned herself in the top few athletes in the U.K. … And therefore is in the position we wanted at this stage.”
Howard started out as a middle distance runner, putting most of her focus on the 800-meter. She only got involved in cross country to help keep her in shape for track, but her ability to compete in multiple track and field events was one of the things that made her stand out to coach James Snyder.
Another thing that stood out to the Snyder was Howard’s times.
“We looked online at the stats and times and saw that her times kept dropping with every race,” Snyder said. “With some runners you see their times stay the same, but for Millie they kept dropping and that really interested us.”
After realizing what Howard could contribute to the team, Snyder reached out to her on Facebook. While the decision to move across the world was not an easy one for Howard, the coaching staff along with everything Temple and Philadelphia had to offer made it hard for her to say no.
“Philly is similar with some of the cities back at home, I thought it would be a great place to live,” said Howard, an economics major. “The facilities here are amazing, along with the Fox School of Business.”
Though her time at Temple has been short, Howard has already made her presence on the team known. Howard came in 10th overall and in third among Temple runners in her first race of the season. She also came in sixth overall and in second among Temple runners at the Rider Invitational, the first 6K of her career.
“Her talent speaks for herself,” Snyder said. “She is incredibly hardworking and someone who has come in right away and has exceeded my expectations in cross country, which really isn’t her primary sport.”
Her strong start in cross country gives the coaching staff nothing but excitement to see what she does in indoor and outdoor track this coming season.
“Looking at what she has [accomplished] in cross country, if she is more comfortable on the track, then I think the sky could be the limit,” Snyder said.
Teresa Sayers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.