Alumni Focus Featuring Ball State University's Karlie Zumbro

(Karlie Zumbro is a 2018 John Glenn High School graduate who now competes in multi-events for Ball State University

Coverage - 

What have been the highlights of your college career to this point?

I have met some pretty awesome friends and mentors since coming to Ball State. I have become so much stronger on both a physical and emotional level. Being able to pursue my degree, while competing in the sport I love has been a blessing. 

My favorite highlight thus far as an athlete has been winning the 2021 MAC Championship in heptathlon. This accomplishment took a lot of faith and willpower. It will be a moment that I never forget, and I will always be grateful for the people that helped me stay strong enough to reach this goal. 

Discuss the transition from high school competition to competing at the college level. What adjustments did you have to make in order to be as successful as possible? 

I graduated from John Glenn High School in 2018. John Glenn is a Division II school, so I was used to competition at that level. While there were always competitors that pushed me in high school, it was not quite the same level as Division I college track. 

While I competed in many different events in high school, I had to transition into the pentathlon / heptathlon along with the occasional 400 hurdles and 4x400 relay in college. 

Transitioning to nine different events could be overwhelming at times. My first year it took a lot of time to adjust to college life and being away from home. While I did not have the freshman season I wanted from an athletic standpoint, I learned that it would take more hard work and sacrifice if I wanted to medal at the MAC meet. 

Moving forward, I took things day by day. The realization that even small progress was still progress helped me each and every day. Staying confident, having faith and never being afraid to ask for assistance from my many resources helped me a ton. 

Tell us about your training regimen by giving a general overview of what goes into getting prepared for your next big meet. 

Training for a heptathlon led to a loaded training regimen for me. The heptathlon consists of 100 hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200 meter dash, long jump, javelin and the 800 meter run. With that being said, I faced a lot of two a day practices in order to hit all of the events. 

A busy day for me would include waking up before class for a tempo training session in the morning. Followed by an afternoon session loaded with hurdles or a field event. Then I would finish my day with weight training. 

Each day leading up to a meet would have practices focused on the following: sprints and accelerations, jumps or throws, hurdle work and tempo (800m) work. Leading up to our conference meet, I would compete in 3-4 individual events in the regular season meets in preparation for my heptathlon at MAC. My success ultimately came from the trust in my training. Taking it day by day and one rep at a time is a major key to achieving success. 

What goals do you hope to accomplish during this upcoming year? 

While winning the heptathlon at MAC crossed one goal off my list, I still have many more aspirations. I hope to not only win again, but continue my journey to NCAA's. I hope to make it there in either the 400 hurdles or the heptathlon. When I make it to nationals, I am hoping that the marks I hit will also grant me Ball State's school records. I am also praying for a healthy and happy senior season with my awesome teammates and fellow competitors. 

What advice can you offer incoming freshmen and high school athletes, who intend on competing in college, on how to best deal with the higher caliber of competition they'll encounter at the next level? Also, what tips can you provide regarding the balance between training commitments and academic demands? 

Be prepared for a loaded schedule. Keeping a planner / agenda and writing things down helps me stay organized with remembering my due dates. Manage your time wisely and try not to wait until the last minute on assignments. Meal prepping and having a plan as to how I am going to fuel myself for the week also helps me save time. 

Important reminders to keep telling yourself: Never forget why you started the sport. Go into every single day with the understanding that you get the opportunity to do something you love. There will be tough days that will break you mentally and physically, but remember that pain is temporary. Don't EVER doubt your abilities. Set your goals high and enjoy every single moment because this journey goes fast. The most important advice I can give is to relax, live in the moment and have fun with the people around you.