A High School Dream Realized: Interview with new Hansons-Brooks Runner Cally Macumber, by Cait Chock

Cally Macumber is now running for the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project! Cait Chock caught up with her on her new journey! 

A High School Dream Realized: Interview With New Hansons-Brooks Runner Cally Macumber

By: Cait Chock

Cally Macumber was ever-present atop the Michigan Prep scene, but she really came into her own during her time at the University of Kentucky. Elevating herself from an area best to the National level. 

For the young runner who since high school had been too shy to share her biggest goal, to become a professional runner, she was watching her dreams materialize.  The talent, work ethic, and motivation was always there; finally, as a top name on the NCAA National scene, in 2013 Macumber shared her goal with her coaches.

Macumber's 2012 breakthrough season occurred synonymously with a coaching change at the University of Kentucky. The addition of Coach Floreal and Coach DeVries had revived Kentucky's program as a whole and Macumber thrived, leading the charge.

As her momentum built, it was quite clear that the only question that remained was where and for whom Macumber would be running for as a professional. It was with much delight that I heard Cally had joined the Michigan-based Hansons-Brooks team to continue training and racing as a professional.

I caught up with Cally about this exciting next step in her career, one which brings her back closer to her family and, interestingly enough, now living with a former high-school rival, Megan Goethals, as the two are now racing on the same team for a change.

1)   Congratulations! You're now running with the Hanson-Brooks team, can you tell us a little about what the process was like making your way back to Michigan and partnering with Hansons-Brooks?

Thank you! Being born and raised in the Rochester area, I have grown quite familiar with the Hansons-Brooks Original Distance Project. I grew up shopping at the Hanson's stores, seeing their athletes train and compete, and was actually an athlete at their very first youth running camp. Given my familiarity with the area, and with the group, the process back to Michigan has been both simple and exciting. Partnering with a group and a brand that I have loved since being a youngster is such an honor!

2)   You just graduated from the University of Kentucky, how long had you been in touch with Hansons-Brooks and what were some of the other options you were looking into?

 I have always been interested in running for Hansons, but I had my first real conversation with the coaches concluding my 2013 Cross Country season. Deciding on a professional group and team is a lot like deciding on a college; you want to make sure that you'll be moving to a place that is the right fit for you--somewhere you see yourself improving and taking the necessary steps towards reaching your goals. Hansons ODP was that place for me. Before committing, I had also looked into and spoken with a handful of other coaches from the east to west coast. These conversations usually consisted of coaching philosophy and training, event focus, funding and sponsorship, facilities and housing, and travel opportunities. By the end of the year, I had a much better idea of what I wanted and I didn't feel the need to pursue other groups much further; knowing Hansons ODP was the right choice for me. I couldn't be more excited to race in the Hansons-Brooks uniform.

3)   How has the transition been? What is your training like now and how are you adjusting?

Moving into my new house just a couple weeks ago, I am still early into the transition period. However, the transition so far has been an easy one, as both the team and everyone within the Hansons community (athletes, volunteers, employees, etc.) have been incredibly kind and welcoming. One of the many reasons Hansons was such a perfect fit for me was how understanding Coach Keith and Kevin were to my situation. This past year has seemingly been one filled with cortisone shots, anti-inflammatories, rehab, cross-training, and, to be honest, much disappointment. With that, the Hansons agreed that time off to regroup and heal was needed. I took over a month to rest, and within the last few weeks, have begun seeing the team's physical therapist, Clint Verran. I've also started rehab, had orthotics made, and as of last week, have begun cross training--progress! I am so happy to say I'll be representing coaches, a group, and a brand who are not only supportive during the good times, but also believe in and support their athletes through the harder ones--making the adjustment for me much easier.

4)   You're now living with a few of the women on the team, it looks like you set up quite a distance runners' haven over there. Can you talk a little about the housing situation, what it's like getting to know the other ladies on the team, and having the support both on and off the run?

Another perk to being a Hansons athlete is team housing, recently redecorated by Brooks. It's awesome to be able to live and, eventually, train with girls who share the same passion for running as I do; people who have also dedicated themselves to pursue their dreams. In a sport that can be so individualized and challenging, it's great to be a part of a group that will understand and go through the process with me.  I feel lucky to be surrounded by such kind and talented people--and in such a great environment...definitely a distance runner's haven!

5)   One of those roommates is Megan Goethals, another recent graduate and new member to the team; she was also a cross-town rival of yours back in high school. How well did you know Megan before and what's it like now racing with her as a teammate?

Although Megan and I raced against each other at nearly every competition in high school, we actually didn't know each other very well. I don't know if I was just intimidated by the Footlocker National Champion or if we were just too dedicated to the high school rivalry (her team actually won the cross country state title the year after my team did!), but since moving in together we have already gotten to know one another better. I think going into your senior year as a college athlete, you generally have the, "this will be my best year ever" attitude. Unfortunately, it didn't really go that way for either of us, so we're definitely both very excited and even more motivated to get back into racing again--this time as teammates! Megan is such a funny, talented, and resilient person; and I'm lucky to have her as one of my training partners.

6)   You've proven quite the master at transitioning between different coaches and being able to excel; Kentucky underwent a coaching change and both your personal and team performances truly thrived under Coach Floreal and DeVries. In now moving to another coaching philosophy, what are some of the key aspects to making a smooth transition and building an effective coach-athlete relationship?

Looking back on all the different coaches I've had over the years, it's interesting to reflect on what made each relationship important to my athletic development. I think the most significant aspect when moving to a new coaching philosophy is truly believing in that philosophy. What that means is; if you have doubts or hesitations towards your coaches or towards your training, I think it's more difficult to accomplish your goals and reach your full potential. With each coach I have had growing up, I have trusted in their training and abilities as coaches (as different as they all have been), and with that trust came steady and significant improvements. As long as you're happy in where you are, work hard, and trust in the training, you'll be more likely to improve. With that, I definitely trust the Hansons-so my hope is that the improvement trend will continue!

7)   How much did the Michigan-based training group factor into your decision? You grew up in Michigan so had you known you wanted to eventually make your way back there?

Although I loved Lexington and going to school in Kentucky, I have always considered Rochester "home." Part of the reason I thought joining this team would be so cool is that I'd be representing a team that originated in my hometown, a group I grew up around. I feel like I'll be representing something more than just myself. It also doesn't hurt to have my supportive family nearby. Who wouldn't want a home cooked meal every once in a while?!

8)   In your non-running time, what have you been up to, will you be doing anything on the side (work/school/projects/etc.), and what are some of your non-running passions?

Concluding NCAAs, I just took some time to relax for a while, without the demands of training. I got to reunite and travel with some of my best friends from high school and take some much needed time off. After moving out of Kentucky for good, I have since been getting more involved with Hansons; attending team practices, visiting their youth summer camp, traveling up to Crystal Lake for some team-bonding, and helping out in their stores a couple times a week. In terms of non-running passions, I have begun to research MBA programs and volunteer opportunities within the area, but for now, I really want to place my main focus on my running goals.

9)   Running-wise, you've always been incredibly successful since high school, but you really jumped to a higher level your last two years at Kentucky. When did you start to feel making running your profession was both realistic and what you wanted to do?

I first started to think about professional running after completing my sophomore year at the University of Kentucky. As a high schooler, I had seen some success, but I wasn't by any means competitive on the National scene. After seeing a big jump in my performance as a sophomore, I had decided that being a professional runner was what I wanted to do. However, at this time, I still wasn't able to perform at the National level, so I kept my goal to myself.  After my 2012 Cross Country and 2013 Indoor seasons, I was beyond excited by the further improvement and began talking with my coaches about the possibilities post-collegiately.

10)  Can you share what some of your goals are moving forward, both short-term and long term?

Right now, my short(ish)-term goal is to continue to get healthy and to utilize all the great resources I have available through Hansons. Coach Kevin and Keith have not put any pressure on me to rush back into training or racing right away, which I am very grateful for. Moving forward, we talked of focusing on the 5k and 10k, while not being limited to strictly that. The Hansons give their athletes opportunities in cross country, track, and on the roads--both Nationally and Internationally. This is great because there is still so much I feel I can improve on and so much competing I'd love to do. As for a long-long-term goal, if all goes as planned, I'd like to give the marathon a shot...eventually. As for specific racing goals...the sky's the limit, right?!

11)  Finally, can you give us an example of what a typical day in the life of Cally looks like now living and training with the Hanson-Brooks team? 

I'd say picture college athletics....without homework! Training is the primary focus for everyone here. We have practice in the mornings, normally beginning at 8:00 a.m., second training runs are in the afternoon, and core strengthening can be done on your own time at the team's local Fitness Club Facility. In the life of Cally, physical therapy, core and cross training are a regular. Time not dedicated to training is completely up to the individual--other employment opportunities, volunteering,..yoga...napping..or all of the above! Life is too short to spend time unhappy. Love what you do, and do what you love : )

A Message From Cally's University of Kentucky Coach, Hakon DeVries:

I'm really glad that Cally gets to follow her dream.  I know the situation at Hansons-Brooks is perfect for her and after talking to her, she sounds really excited about the opportunity.  I'm always going to be following her progress and I'm happy she's shown a lot of our younger girls that if you stay dedicated and hungry, there will always be opportunities to continue your career post-collegiately. 

Thank you very much for your time, Cally, the sky certainly IS the limit and we look with eager anticipation to watch, and cheer, for you every step of the way!


Caitlin Chock (caitchock.com) set the then National High School 5k Record (15:52.88) in 2004 and previously ran for Nike. A freelance writer, artist, and designer she writes about all things running and founded Ezzere, her own line of running shirts (www.ezzere.com). You can read more, see her running comics, and her shirts at her website.

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