Portland High School’s record-breaking runner Shawn Laverty has decided to continue competing at the next level.
“I’m excited to announce my commitment to the University of Vermont to further my academic and athletic career,” Laverty announced on April 9. “Thank you to my family, teammates, and coaches for guiding and supporting me through this journey.”
While starting her college search, Laverty had originally decided to give up competitive running at the next level. She wanted to channel her energy into academics and the other aspects that come with the collegiate experience.
However, earlier this year she came to the realization that she wanted to continue lacing up her running shoes.
“Vermont really appealed to me from the beginning of my college search,” said Laverty. “Seeing my success this year, I realized that [running] is not something that I wanted to give up yet. I like that competitive aspect of it and just being with a team and training to get better.”
Laverty will be joining a Catamounts running team led by Matt Belfield, who has been coaching the Division I program for two decades.
Running at a the highest collegiate level is something that seemed like only a pipe dream a few years ago for Laverty, who had grown up playing soccer and hadn’t ran more than a lap around the track until high school.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit American soil in March of 2020, Laverty was a sophomore and used the time away from school to increase her distances while decreasing her times.
“I [ran] just to cope with it all and with all the free time,” recalled Laverty. “My times started to go down and I was getting stronger and realized I can go someplace with it.”
Her times on the cross-country trails and during indoor and outdoor track season drop like a rock, culminating with her success this year.
Laverty had a top-ten finish at the Class S cross-country championships in the fall and then had a record-breaking winter, shattering the school record in the 3200 meters by running an 11:53.77 at the Class S Indoor Track and Field finals in February. She finished 2nd in the event overall, beating her own personal-best time in the distance by 17 seconds and the school record — which stood for a decade — by 15 seconds.
It was an astonishing accomplishment for someone who first started training for the two-mile distance only a few months earlier.
“It’s something that I never thought I would be capable of and it’s so rewarding. It’s made me have an appreciation for what my body is capable of,” Laverty said of her incredible running progress.
Deborah Rooth, who has coached Laverty in indoor track for the past two years, said, “Shawn possesses qualities that make her a fierce competitor. She has a work ethic second to none.”
“She was unafraid to challenge herself,” added Rooth. “As Captain of the team she demonstrated great leadership abilities and was well respected by her teammates. Shawn is a coach’s dream and I felt privileged to be a part of her success.”
Currently, Laverty and the outdoor track and field team at PHS are preparing for the state championships later this month.
She is hoping to qualify for the State Open, slated for June 6, in either the 1600 or 3200 meter distance and with her 4x800 relay team.
Laverty is a student-athlete in every sense of the word. Along with her laundry list of running accomplishments, she is heavily involved with the school and community.
She serves as the Vice President of the National Honor Society chapter and is also part of the National Technical Honor Society. She is heavily involved with student government at the school, serving as the Secretary for the Student Senate, which helps with school-wide events such as pep rallies and spirit weeks.
“I’ve enjoyed the small intimate community at Portland. I’ve appreciated being able to know everyone and making good connections, but I'm ready to experience something a little bigger and see more of the world,” said Laverty. “Who I am and the life I’ve created in Portland has brought me to this point and I am very grateful for it, but I’m also very excited for what the future holds.”
In Vermont, she will study business administration at the university’s Grossman School of Business in Burlington.
“It’s got that cute city feel, but not too big,” Laverty said of Burlington. “I’m looking forward to experiencing new memories with a new team.”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin