Alyssa Hendrix is a standout distance star from the state of Florida who has grown to prominence on the national stage. She has secured personal bests of 4:46 (mile), 10:32 (3200), and 17:24 (5k) while earning a pair of top 20 finishes at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships. We caught up with the recent NC State commit to ask her a few questions...
The Stride Report: We want to get to your college commitment, but let’s chat about your high school career for a moment. You’re a two-time top 20 finisher at the Foot Locker National Championships and a three-time individual state champion. What do you think has allowed you to run so well on some of the biggest stages?
Alyssa Hendrix: I think what has allowed me to run so well is taking risks in those bigger races and mentally preparing myself for them. In races such as Foot Locker Nationals you have to go in having the mindset that you are ready to take chances and get out of your comfort zone. The only way to really test your boundaries and get fast times is to be uncomfortable in races.
TSR: What are your expectations for the rest of this season? What are you hoping to accomplish?
Alyssa: My expectations for the rest of this season are breaking 17 minutes and getting as close as I can to the Florida state record. Plus, I want to go to Foot Locker Nationals again for the third time. The last couple of years at Nationals I was not able to secure “All-American” status by getting top 15, but this year I think I can be top 10 or better. I feel really strong and have been killing workouts, so I think these goals are definitely attainable.
TSR: Let’s transition to the more recent news. You just announced your commitment to NC State. Why did you choose the Wolfpack?
Alyssa: I wanted a college that would give me a good balance with academics and athletics, but also feel like a home away from home. I was also looking for a team that would push me and that I felt comfortable around. Plus, the coaches seemed to really care about developing me not only as an athlete, but as a person.
TSR: What other schools were you looking at? What made NC State standout compared to these other programs?
Alyssa: I took a lot of unofficial visits, but I took officials to NC State, Furman, Vanderbilt, and Florida State. What made NC State standout was the atmosphere of the school and the history of the running program that was so special. Plus, I wanted to love a college and be able to see myself there even if I wasn’t running. I also loved the big city life of Raleigh, but when I was walking around the campus it didn’t feel like I was in a big city. North Carolina State was not the most flashy college I had visited, but it was the one that made me feel the most at home.
TSR: NC State is positioned to be a very strong team for the next few years. How much of an allure did the idea of chasing podium finishes (or even a national title) appeal to you when making your decision?
Alyssa: It had a big impact on my decision. To be on the podium holding a national title trophy is every runners dream and I believe NC State can make that dream come true. The program is already amazing, but I think the girls that they have brought in over the last couple of years and the girls going in with me this year are going to REALLY shake up the NCAA.
TSR: Was there anything about the coaching staff, specifically Laurie Henes, that really caught your attention? Was there anything in particular that you liked?
Alyssa: The coaching staff was one of the biggest factors in my decision for sure. From the beginning I felt that it was really easy to talk to them and that our goals were very similar. Coach Henes was someone that I felt I could trust as a coach and a mentor throughout my next four to five years in college. I also really liked how she focused on the development of athletes and was very down to Earth as a person.
TSR: What were your initial thoughts on the team? Was there anything that stood out to you?
Alyssa: The girls from all my college visits were great and very welcoming. However, the girls at NC State I felt like I fit in the best with. The girls were so close-knit with each other and I could feel the love they had for not only the program as a whole, but with one another. I also really liked the boy’s team and how close they were with the girl’s team.
TSR: When did you realize that NC State was going to be your choice? Was there a moment of realization - whether it be on your official visit or after - where you realized that you wanted to be at NC State more than any other school?
Alyssa: NC State was one of the first unofficial visits I took my sophomore year and I remember loving it and feeling very comfortable there, so it was always one of my top schools. However, I really didn’t know I wanted to go there until after all my official visits were done and I sat down with my parents at the kitchen table to talk about each program. Finally being able to relax and look at the pros and cons of each college based on the team, coaches, and running program made me realize that NC State was the best fit for me.
TSR: Give us your recruiting pitch for other top recruits to come to NC State.
Alyssa: NC State is a program that on multiple occasions has shown dominance in the running world, and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon. For instance, the women’s program leads the ACC Cross Country Championships with a record 24 wins. In addition, during this past 2018 cross country season, they won ACC’s for the third-straight time. This is a program that is going to really push you to be the best athlete that you can be while also having the combination of exceptional people, not just athletes. Plus, the coaching staff is amazing and really value working on you as a person and an athlete. The city of Raleigh is also really beautiful, and the weather is amazing.
TSR: What advice would you give to other athletes who are going through the college recruiting process?
Alyssa: Anytime an athlete asks for advice about the college recruiting process I always say to trust your gut and to get a head start in your college search. I started looking at possible colleges around the end of my sophomore cross country season and I think it really helped with the pressure of deciding possible official visits.
TSR: Any final comments? Shout-outs?
Alyssa: All the fancy gear and VIP treatment that every college has is amazing (some more than others) and very tempting. However, what I focused on the most was the people I was going to surround myself with because those are the ones who are going to help you get to where you want as an athlete. Also, don’t allow other people’s opinions to get in the way of your college decision either. Everyone has their own opinion about what college you should go to, but you are the one that is actually going to be attending the school.
Thank you to all of the colleges that have shown interest in me and all the people who have made me the person I am today! I can’t wait to join the Wolfpack!