How many athletes can honestly say that they can compete at the collegiate level after sustaining injuries to both shoulders, and living with an artificial hip for most of their life? Not many, but Cortney Phillips can. She is a hard worker who has spent countless hours in physical therapy and in the training room to get herself ready to compete. Her hip cannot take the beating that is inevitable in many collegiate sports, so instead she competes in the pool, a much lower-impact environment for joints.
In high school, Cortney would be in the pool as many as ten times a week, working longer and harder hours than many swimmers at the college level. Near the end of her high school career, however, injuries to both shoulders slowed her down a bit, leading her to question her swimming future. “I have a sister who swam at a Division I school, and it was very intense and stressful for her,” she says.
Cortney understood that her body could not sustain the rigors of a Division I program, so she opted for a smaller school where she could focus on her academics, and swim in her free time. “Honestly, I felt like the decision to go DIII had been made for me, with my injuries,” she says. Eventually, Cortney landed at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virgina. “At Hollins, swimming can take a backseat to my academics.”
With the increased amount of time to focus on her studies, Cortney has already decided on a major in her sophomore year - English. Ever since high school, she has always wanted to become an English teacher and a swim coach.
It appears she may have a natural talent for such a career, as she has taken on a leadership role on the swim team in just her second year. “Being part of a team where I can be in more of a leadership role, and mentor the girls with less experience than me, has been very beneficial,” Cortney says. Such leadership experience will without a doubt be invaluable as she begins looking for coaching jobs coming out of college.
No less valuable will be her Division III experience as a whole. Between athletics, academics, and her roles in student government and the Batten Leadership Institute, Cortney will graduate a more well-rounded person. This balanced lifestyle is what Division III is all about.