Oct. 14, 2013
Carroll's Return Sparked by Faith, FriendsBy David Boyce
MARYVILLE, Mo - As Northwest Missouri State senior Katti Carroll crossed the finish line in fourth place in the Bearcat Open on Sept. 6, she felt blessed. Carroll had made it back from her battle with anorexia.
It didn’t matter to her that she was faster two years ago when she placed fifth in the MIAA Championships and 12th in the NCAA Division II South Central regional.
Carroll had taken another successful step in beating anorexia.
“The excitement of being in a race was an expression of joy,” she said.
It takes a strong family, good friends and oftentimes much more for an individual to conquer such an insidious disorder.
Carroll had all that support plus her strong belief in God to help heal her and get her through those tough times.
Her journey back to collegiate competition included an eight-week stay at a clinic in Denver during the summer in 2012.
She went there with a determination to get better and a Bible verse to help see her through to the light of happiness and healthiness.
For Carroll, II Corinthians 4:16-18 was the verse that guided her.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
“When I got to the treatment center, I knew that wasn’t the lifestyle that God had for me,” Carroll said. “He didn’t want me suffering through this. I was created to be a much more alive and beautiful person.”
Her teammates and Northwest cross country coach Scott Lorek never gave up on her.
It didn’t matter to Lorek if Carroll ever ran for Northwest again. He just wanted her to get better.
“I always tell our kids, even in recruiting, what we do here is a lot more than how fast you run, how far you jump and how far you throw,” Lorek said. “This was the situation to prove that. We want to be a lot more than that.”
Lorek took time out of his summer in 2012 and visited Carroll at the clinic in Denver. The time Carroll spent at the treatment center was the hardest thing she had done in her life. She grew up on a farm in Clarence, Mo. She was away from her family. She wasn’t allowed to walk by herself outside because the staff didn’t want patients to pace around.
“Obviously, running was out of the question,” she said.
By the time Lorek showed up, Carroll said she was ready to leave the clinic.
“When he visited me, it was a really rough time,” Carroll said. “I was ready to be done and come home. They were telling me I was not where I needed to be, yet. They wanted me to stay for a couple of more weeks, but I was mentally done.
“Coach reassured me if I pushed through, it would be worth it. He thought I should stay. That was reassuring to me to have his encouragement.”
Lorek has seen other runners go through what Carroll was dealing with. It happens in the running community and is hard to detect because most successful distance runners don’t have an ounce of fat on them.
“The running world in general it often goes hidden until there is an injury, Lorek said. “It is very difficult to be proactive in this. When the ball is rolling down the hill, it goes quite a ways down the hill before anybody notices.
“Even though I’ve been coaching women for a long time and dealt with athletes with eating disorders throughout most of my career at various times, it is so impossible to put yourselves in their place and what they are dealing with and what it is like. It is truly an unimaginable thing.”
Carroll, though, gave plenty of signs she wanted to get better. She took last year off from competition, but stayed in school and earned a Bachelor’s degree in business agriculture. She had to make an adjustment.
“It was different,” she said. “I lost connection with my teammates. That was hard. I was still able to come to practice a few times and I ran a few times on easy runs, but I definitely felt I lost connection with my teammates and that routine. Every day it was practice at 3:30. Not having that throws you off because you used to that for so long.”
When Carroll returned to Northwest this school year to begin work on a master’s degree in applied health sciences, she wanted to return to the cross country team. She still had a year of eligibility left.
“Of course, there were certain physical parameters she had to meet and she met those,” Lorek said.
Carroll returned to the team. She opened up to her teammates about anorexia and her battle to beat it.
She could have kept it to herself. Carroll definitely didn’t have to tell her story to anybody but the people close to her.
But she is determined to beat this disorder and discussing it is part of the healing process.
“I feel like if I kept it to myself it is a form of denial as if nothing was wrong,” Carroll said. “I definitely was a broken person. I definitely struggled with things. You can’t get through things unless we are open with it.
“Going through it, I see the seriousness of this disorder and disease. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. I don’t think anyone deserves to go through what I was going through. It is not a place you want to be mentally. I’m trying to be open about it.”
Words such as those mean a lot to her teammates. Anne Herbert, was a teammate of Carroll in 2011.
“Her openness with the team about the issues she had takes a lot of courage because a lot of people don’t share things they go through of that nature with other people because it is very personal,” Herbert said.
“There is so much to learn from her because she is open about it. I think she encourages all of us to be open about problems we have too, because she was the one who was open with us.
“She is a really strong Christian. I admire her for that. She is just a great person. She cares for everybody on the team. She is just a good leader for the younger runners.” Carroll’s words are an inspiration.
“I am just glad God has brought my body to the restoration point where I am healthy and strong,” she said. “That is what I have to remember whenever I have a tough workout. Lately, I am thankful, more than anything.”
When Carroll arrived at Northwest, she had no idea what role Northwest would play in her maturing from a teenager to a young woman.
She quickly learned she had teammates, coaches and professors who cared about her. Head athletic trainer Kelly Quinlin, coach Lorek and teammates were by her side, helping her get better.
“I feel like teachers have relationships with you. Everybody can relate to you. That is the thing I like about Northwest,” Carroll said.
“I just don’t know what other university would do that. I don’t know if they would or not. I’m not just an athlete, I am their friend. They really care about me. At Northwest, it really feels like a family.
“I am really overjoyed, blessed is the word to describe it.”
No result in a race can top that.
“I can’t express how elated I am to have her back, not only because she is a great team person, she is incredibly supportive of her teammates,” Lorek said.
“There are so many people who get in this situation and they are done and never return. For her to return is a huge victory in itself.”
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