A new home at Baylor: XC transfers embrace culture, coaches, team

Baylor cross country transfer students share their unique perspectives. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics.

By George Schroeder | LTVN Executive Producer

“I get up at 5 a.m., and I’m excited to wake up at 5 a.m.,” junior runner Jackie Addy said. “Last cross country season [at the University of Florida], waking up at 5 a.m., I was dreading it.”

It wasn’t an easy decision to enter the transfer portal, but according to Baylor cross country’s newest upperclassman transfers, Addy and graduate student Alia Henderson, it was the right decision.

“I realized that I was falling out of love with running and that I really just hated the sport,” Addy said. “I came to the point where basically it was like, if I want to continue running, it’s not going to be here.”

That is not something you expect to hear from any student athlete when they describe their sport or athletic career, but for former Gator Addy, something had to change.

Addy ran at the University of Florida, where she said she felt the coaching wasn’t personalized. When she finally entered the transfer portal, she said she was looking for a change in team atmosphere and a coach who would better understand her running style.

“He [Baylor head coach David Barnett] was like, ‘let’s write a plan that works for you,’” Addy said. “Here, I’m treated like a person. At Florida, I was treated like just another number.”

For Henderson, while her previous situation at the University of Incarnate Word was not the same as Addy’s, the feeling surrounding her new squad and coach has been similar.

“Coach Barnett, right off the bat, he was someone that I knew I could trust and respect,” Henderson said. “The team is just phenomenal — not necessarily that my team at UIW wasn’t phenomenal as well — they’re just a super good group to be around.”

Head coach David Barnett said he brought in both girls from the transfer portal to bring experience and maturity to the team while filling in some thinned-out upperclassmen slots and fostering team-building.

“They’re very diligent [in] taking care of themselves,” Barnett said. “They [the team] hang out together and do a lot of things together. A coach can’t make a team, they have to make up their minds that they want to be a team.”

Henderson said so far, the dynamics between the upper and lowerclassmen have been positive, and both said they felt like they have been accepted as members of the team since day one.

“I would say just the overall group that I’m around in terms of academically, athletically, have just really poured into me a ton more than I’ve ever been poured into before,” Henderson said. “I found that really to be impressive, how it’s still very cohesive with a lot of girls on the team.”

According to the runners, Baylor cross country is having no issue finding its footing when it comes to building its culture, and both Addy and Henderson said their new school is playing a major part.

“Baylor really is a special place as an athlete, as a student, it’s just a really unique place to be,” Addy said. “I’ve loved every minute of it so far.”

Henderson said there’s a “light that everyone has.”

“I’m not even just throwing that out there, everyone has been super supportive, super kind, in the most genuine, authentic way,” Henderson said. “I think that’s what has helped my transition to Baylor so far.”

George Schroeder
George Schroeder is a senior at Baylor University majoring in journalism. Currently the only student on his 4th year with the Lariat, he is the executive producer for Lariat TV News, he has worked as the managing editor, a broadcast reporter and an anchor for the program. In 2022 he was named the Baylor Department of Student Media’s “Broadcaster of the Year” and the inaugural winner of the Rick Bradfield Award for Breaking News Coverage. During his time with the Lariat, he has served as a member of the Editorial Board, a sportswriter and an opinion writer. He is a contracted cadet in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps and will commission as an officer into the United States Air Force after graduation in 2024.