Olympian Abbey D’Agostino ’14 on ‘The Mind as a Muscle’

News subtitle

The alumna talks about overcoming anxiety, accepting limitations, and the 2016 Olympics.

Abbey D’Agostino ’14
Abbey D’Agostino ’14 during her senior year at Dartmouth. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

Read the full story, published by The Call to Lead.

Abbey D’Agostino ’14 is the most decorated Ivy League athlete in track and field and cross country, winning seven individual NCAA titles. She is the only woman in NCAA history to win both the 3,000- and 5,000-meter races twice at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, and she has since represented the U.S. at the 2015 World Outdoor Championships, the 2016 World Indoor Championships, and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The recipient of an honorary degree from Dartmouth in 2017, D’Agostino runs professionally for New Balance and is training for the 2020 Olympics.

How did Dartmouth prepare you to be a leader as an athlete? As a person?

D’Agostino: By my junior year at Dartmouth, I had much more athletic success than I had ever expected. I had a good GPA. But being a perfectionist, I was never satisfied. I had that inner tyrant eating away at me, creating anxiety. I had been training hard the whole year, preparing for the U.S. championships. By the end of the year, I had a huge amount of physical and mental stress that I was hiding inside, to the point I had an intense anxiety attack. I finally realized I couldn’t live this way anymore. I thought I had so much control over my life, but it was just an illusion.

With the help of my coach, teammates, and faith, I learned how important it is to recognize the beauty of those moments of vulnerability. They are opportunities to accept your limitations and share them with others. This is the only way to truly relate to people. Humanizing myself made me a much stronger, more approachable leader.

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