Stover commits to run cross country, track for Alabama

Bearden senior Rebecca Stover has committed to run cross country and track for the University of Alabama. Stover, a three-sport athlete, is one of the top distance runners in the state and also starts at right wing for the girls soccer team. The decision came on Wednesday after school. “I had already decided (Alabama) was where I wanted to go if it worked out,” Stover said. Stover had spent the weekend in Tuscaloosa, on her second official visit to the university. On Wednesday, she felt the time was right to commit. “I didn’t want to wait until November, when my Arkansas visit was,” she said. A major factor in Stover’s decision was her wish to compete in the Southeastern Conference, and Tuscaloosa seemed the place to do it in. “The distance is perfect,” Stover said of the four and a half hour drive. The distance, environment, and coaches all seemed just right at Alabama. “This is actually a new program, but I’m not worried because the head coach is from Texas A&M,” Stover said. Texas A&M has one of the best track programs in the country, and Alabama’s new head coach, Dan Waters, was the recruiting coordinator and distance coach there through four Aggie national championships. “All the coaches are great and really know what they’re doing,” Stover said. “It’s an up-and-coming program.” Stover feels that through her four years in the program, Alabama will start competing for championships. Bearden’s distance coach Steve Prince thinks this will to compete, even in the SEC, is what makes Stover so great. “She is a competitor,” Coach Prince said. “She just loves to compete. She gets really mad when she loses.” Stover does not like to lose her races, but she also does not like to lose a soccer match. So how does she feel about losing soccer, a game she has played since the age of 5? “I’ll miss soccer, but I think I’ll keep busy with running,” Stover said. “I won’t have time to miss soccer.” While conventional wisdom is that focusing on one sport could have helped her to land a big scholarship, Stover is happy with the road she chose. “All my running coaches were like ‘quit playing soccer’, all my soccer coaches were like ‘quit running’,” Stover said. “But in the end, I got to go to a big school where I wanted to be. I’m happy that my parents kept letting me do both.” But she knew her senior season at Bearden would be the end of her soccer career. “I decided last year I just wanted to do running,” Stover said. “It’s a lot easier to be recruited for running.” The tougher decision was where she wanted to run. A decision, now made, that takes a lot of stress off the senior’s back. “I can just focus on my season,” she said. Coach Prince is also happy that college applications and the like will no longer be on his runner’s mind. “Now she can just relax and try to get her times down,” Coach Prince said. “And try to get her 1600 (meter) title back in the spring.” So, now that Stover has decided her home for the next few years, she can just relax. That is, until soccer playoffs and cross country’s most important meets come around in a few weeks.