The Frederick Steeplechasers Running Club has announced six hardworking, deserving recipients for its 2020 FSRC Memorial Scholarship. This year, three male and three female athletes from Frederick County received a total of $9,500 from the club, which it raised through its annual “Rick’s Run” event and sponsor contributions.
Sophie Geernaert (Urbana High School) and Thomas Silva (Frederick High School) were the top scholarship female and male recipients, each receiving $2,500. Recipients of the second awards were Audrey McClatchie (Walkersville High School, $1,500) and Kathryn Sloan (Governor Thomas Johnson High School, $1,500). Third award recipients this year were Luke Hartlaub (Urbana High School, $750) and Owen Bubczyk (Catoctin High School, $750).
Read below for each winner’s bio and photo!
Sophie Geernaert’s running career began with the FSRC Self Propel running group when she was just 7 years old. Sophie participated in Self Propel from 2nd grade to 8th grade. While Sophie enjoyed her time with the team, she later concluded racing on city streets was “growing old.” Sophie enjoyed running but wanted to try trail ultra-marathons. Sophie soon learned ultra-marathons were not just a test of physical endurance, they are a test of mental endurance. Sophie has competed in 10 ultra-marathon races to date, including Rick’s Run, Mid Maryland 50k, and Greenbrier 50k. Sophie also has extensive experience volunteering at running events, including the Headless Horseman 5k, an 8 hour shift at the C and O 100 Miler, course marshal for Frederick Half Marathon for 6 years, and the Goodloe Byron 10 Mile Run aid station and finish line. Sophie also led the 2019 Membership Survey for FSRC.
Sophie’s tennis coach Roger Reitman reports “Sophie has a winning personality. Anyone who knows her would recognize that she is personable, likable, and friendly. For several years Sophie helped me teach some of my younger students at Tuscarora Tennis Club. The children loved her and she was a very good teacher.”
John Steiner describes Sophie as having a, “positive attitude, determination and willingness to put in the work.”
“When I joined the cross country team, I did not think that an activity that brought pain could release my stress and help me become a better person.” – Thomas Silva
Thomas Silva was a member of the Frederick High School varsity cross country and track & field team for three years. He was captain of the cross country team for two years and the track team for one year. A pivotal point in Thomas’s running career happened while volunteering. Alongside his teammates, Thomas volunteered at the finish line of the JFK 50 Miler, handing out medals to race finishers. Thomas describes his experience: “I was so surprised when I saw that every finisher had a big smile on their face when they crossed the finish line. No matter their age, their experience, or their time, everyone was genuinely happy. I had never been around an ambiance where people were happy to run. This made me realize that running is a gift. In the past, I would dread running. But after my volunteering experience, I learned to appreciate every last mile. No matter the difficulty, I was grateful to have the ability to wake up every morning and run.”
Being the best student-athlete and teammate was very important to Thomas. Track coach Sage Norton wrote, “Thomas is quiet, but strong willed, always leading and making decisions without being told or asked. Thomas is a hard worker by nature, self-driven and motivated, always striving to be the best version of him.”
Coach Frank Strakonsky describes Thomas as one who always does the right thing with not much attention or recognition. One of the many ways Thomas showed his commitment to running was by helping with the West Frederick Middle School after school Cadet Running Club before his own practice time.
Thomas describes wanting to “spread the gift of running and sports to everyone around the world. I want to help people get back on their feet and run.” Thomas plans to seek a career in physical therapy to promote health and wellness.
“Sometimes someone else needs to beat you to the finish line so that you can become humble enough to take a step back and evaluate your priorities in life. It does not matter the number of medals we have, or the hours of service we can brag about on college applications. It is about those intimate interactions with individuals that allow us to share our unique spirit.” – Audrey McClatchie
Audrey admits she is very competitive. In elementary school she wanted to be the fastest. Her goal was to beat everyone on the mile run on the fitness test. She rivaled the boys on the pacer test. This competitiveness followed her to high school where she ran cross country for Walkersville High School her sophomore and junior years. At the conclusion of her sophomore season, Audrey received the best newcomer award after competing every race on Varsity.
A pivotal point for Audrey was her experience competing in a county-wide Distinguished Young Women’s program with 22 other girls. While Audrey did not win the title, she won the “Spirit Award.” The award recognizes a participant that embodied the positivity of a distinguished young woman. At first Audrey was disappointed, but she soon came to the conclusion that “serving the people around us is far more important than winning. It’s just like choosing to smile to cheer on your teammates even when you are tired and upset about being just a second too slow.”
Audrey volunteered extensively at the Frederick Food Bank and the Run or Walk for Shelter 5k. She was also a leader for many years at summer youth camps. Audrey is active in her church as well.
Kathryn (Katy) Sloan
“Competing in track has allowed me to physically challenge myself to do better. Through track, I learned that life is about personal improvement.” – Kathryn Sloan
Kathryn participated on the girls varsity indoor and outdoor track and field team for all four years of high school. Kathryn reports that while she wasn’t her team’s “track star,” she is proud of the “immense improvement” she made. “I am not your typical track sprinter. I am only 5’0 tall and have short legs, but I have never regretted doing track.”
Kathryn enjoyed learning new skills and meeting new people through volunteering in the community. She learned how important the impact a group of people can have when working together towards a common goal.
Kathryn was involved in a variety of community service activities, such as passing out food at local food drives, making and donating handmade hats and scarves for nursing home residents, and assisting at the annual County Unified Track meet.
Cameo Lawler, Kathryn’s school counselor, writes. “She has overcome every challenge in her life with maturity and insight, a testament to her inner strength and perseverance. Kathryn is driven, independent, and resilient.”
“While sidelined during my indoor track season, I learned many things about myself. I learned about the depths of my willpower and resolve, dedicating myself towards getting healthy again. I learned patience, trusting the path to recovery I was on. I learned about leadership, waking up before the sun on school days to train on the stationary bike, so that I could support my teammates at every practice and meet possible. This time was an extremely formative period for the rest of my life.” –Luke Hartlaub
Luke Hartlaub was a member of the Urbana HS cross country, indoor, and outdoor team for three consecutive years, beginning his sophomore year. He was captain of cross country and indoor track his senior year. Luke describes his athletic career as marked by tremendous ups and downs. Luke encountered many injuries, including multiple broken fingers, shin splints, and a sprained joint in his big toe. Luke’s biggest setback was in his junior year when he was tripped during a cross country race. Luke lost both shoes in the first quarter mile but finished the race with a PR. This was not without consequences. Luke suffered a stress fracture in his ankle. The quote above is based on this injury and not being able to participate in indoor track his junior year.
Luke volunteered extensively with the Urbana Middle School Ecology Club. Luke loved being able to “positively affect the ecology in his community through maintaining the Liz Coffey Memorial Trail behind the middle school and helping to revive the American Chestnut Tree”. Luke also enjoyed being a leader and mentor for the middle school students in the club.
Coach Tim Synder wrote, “Luke is a driven, confident leader who sets a positive example of hard work and determination. In addition to his leadership, Luke is a genuine role model for his teammates, coaches, and peers. He strives to uphold a healthy team culture, which is a pillar to the teams’ success. He is also a devoted volunteer in the Urbana community.”
“Running has been challenging over the years, but it has formed me into a dedicated individual. I understand that success is not possible without exerting effort. Often, workouts are mentally and emotionally difficult. However, I persevere in order to improve myself.” – Owen Bubczyk
Owen began running at the age of eleven years old. He competed in cross country and track and field at the youth level throughout middle school. Owen ran in the 2015 Mission 10 Miler and participated in the Frederick Steeplechasers Summer Decathlon. When Own entered high school he ran cross country for four seasons as well as outdoor track and field for four seasons. Owen competed in indoor track and field for one season. During Owen’s junior year, he was devastated when he learned he suffered a stress fracture and could not compete in the state cross country meet. Owen persevered by remaining dedicated and patient, helping him to recover and achieve later accomplishments.
Owen’s challenges led to his career interest, physical therapy.. Owen is committed to improving the health of others. He is pursuing a Doctorate in Physical Therapy at the University of Delaware.
Owen has extensive volunteer experiences. He was a course marshal at youth cross country meets as well as a volunteer registering participants for a local 5K race. Owen also assisted at a JFK 50 Miler aid station, providing runners with water.
To learn more about the FSRC Memorial Scholarship and application information, click here.