Running has always been a part of my life. I’m a big traveler, and wherever I go, I run. I was a member of the Women’s Track and Field team from 1988-1990, as a sprinter and middle distance runner. The 400 and the 800 were my races—the long sprints that require both speed and stamina and make you feel like you are dying, though somehow when it’s over you feel even more alive. My favorite was always the mile relay—when the meet came down to that event and the runners put it all on the line—win or lose, and the crowd went wild.

The decision to cut the Varsity Men’s Track and Field and Cross Country teams is a regrettable one. Not only is it heartbreaking to think that this team will no longer exist, denying others the opportunity my fellow teammates had, but it does not align with Brown’s efforts toward diversity and inclusion.

Running is an equalizer… it’s one of those sports that anyone can do, anywhere, as long as you have sneakers. You don’t need a fancy racket, or any kind of sword, or a boat—all you need is pure grit and determination and an open space. It’s available to everyone. It has brought all kinds of amazing people and places into my life. People all of over the world, of all walks of life, realize their dreams through running. The Brown Track and Field and Cross Country teams are diverse and welcoming and have served as a family away from home for so many.

I feel so lucky to have run at Brown—to have been part of something so competitive and inspiring. I had a great experience, making friends, travelling to Alabama and North Carolina, running on our record-breaking mile-relay team, and competing at meets like Penn Relays and the Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Brown Track and Field taught me discipline, provided me opportunity, and increased my self-confidence in ways I could never have imagined. I achieved things I didn’t know I could, because of the strength of the program, incredible coaches, and amazingly supportive team. I still have the small silver bowl on which the words “Outstanding Freshman” and my name are engraved. I remember how surprised, proud, and happy I was in that moment, to receive it. I would not be who I am without having run at Brown.

This news has brought back so many poignant memories, one of which is of my parents and younger sister coming to watch me compete at the Heptagonal Championships at Columbia in NYC. To remember that meet, in all its wonder and glory, and then visualize it without the Brown men’s team present is so disheartening. Brown needs to be there. Brown Runners have always shown up to compete. To deny them that opportunity is an indignity.

-Sylvie Mortimer, Brown Track and Field Alum, 1992