Feb. 10, 2011
By Sam Hitchcock, Miami Athletic Communications
For an aspiring Division I athlete, serious injuries are a worst nightmare. Especially when they come early in your teenage years before you reach high school.
However, Sarah Bullock (DuPont Manul High School) is not like every Division I athlete. And while she certainly would not tell you that she's grateful about enduring shoulder problems since the eighth grade, she does acknowledge that the time she spent with physical therapists and athletic trainers have helped lead her towards her exercise science major and a future profession in medicine.
"Seeing how much it helped me really pushed me into wanting to help other people," said Bullock. I know I would not be swimming without them, and that has acted as my motivation."
The compassion and earnestness that Bullock exudes is no façade, as she credits her teammates and coaches for the reason why she is still on the team.
"Coming out of surgery my freshman year and going into my sophomore year, it was really hard because I was not in shape," said Bullock. "My shoulder was still hurting from the surgery but I got such great support that it helped push me through. My friend Miranda (Kaltenborn) always pushed me to not go too far but still get my workout in."
Coach Dave Jennings has glowing words to say about Bullock, not just about Sarah's tireless work ethic and knack for performing well in big meets, but her moral character as well.
"Sarah is a young lady who strikes me as being one of the most positive kids we have ever had," said Jennings. "She has been through some ups and down with injuries but always has kept a great outlook."
Miranda and Coach Jennings have not been the only eyes watching her injuries closely and passing down advice. Bullock's father, Steve Bullock, was a distance runner for the University of North Carolina.
"He was pretty impressive in his day as he was running a sub-four minute mile before his knee injury," said Bullock. "My dad has always been very cautious about my injury. He pushed his injury too far and he had to quit the team. He never wanted me to make that mistake."
Sarah's mother swam her freshman year at the University of Cincinnati, but coming out of high school it was University of North Carolina that Bullock had her sights on.
"I figured I would go and follow in my dad's footsteps," said Bullock. "But when I came to Miami I realized it was a perfect fit and have never regretted it."
Since coming to Miami, Bullock has enjoyed the camaraderie and tradition that RedHawk athletics possesses.
"I never knew how much love and honor could mean before I became an athlete for Miami," Bullock said. "Love and honor is something that will always stick with me."
Sarah certainly has helped the RedHawks success in the pool, as two years ago she contributed to Miami winning the MAC Championship. It was the school's 16th team title. She remembers this as one of her most cherished memories, recalling the giddiness from jumping into the pool to splash and congratulate her teammates. Since then cites her junior year as her breakout season and is trying to continue to build upon last year's success.
"I definitely want to try and improve my time and get a top eight finish," said Bullock. "The mile has always been one of my strengths. I have been a good distance swimmer, but since coming to college I've really improved my 500 as well."
While Bullock has only a few more months to make splashses in the NCAA, she has her goggles focused on other things, too.
"I really want to travel," said Bullock. "Possibly take a year off and go to Europe. I want to travel to Italy, Southern Europe and the Mediterranean. My parents said they would take me after I graduate from nursing school."
While Bullock eyes the future, her opponents still have to worry about the present, as she and the RedHawks hope they can add another prize to the trophy case. With the resiliency and poise of Bullock, it would be foolish to count them out.