In the middle of a recent afternoon Sara Lindell was getting a head start on preparations to become one of the charter members of the Sandhills Community College women's cross country team.
The Union Pines High School graduate is one of a half dozen ladies committed to head Coach Jeff Moody's Lady Flyers squad. He will also lead the college's first men's team. By the time the fall semester begins on Monday he is counting on having about 10 ladies and a dozen men in the fold.
"Sarah is excited and I like that," Moody said. "She doesn't mind working and if you put in the work it is going to pay off. And she can definitely run."
Lindell moved to Whispering Pines from Hardin County, Kentucky when she was in the eighth grade with her parents Brian and Karen, and brothers Connor, Christian and Carson. A soccer player throughout her youth, she decided to join the cross country team when she got to Union Pines.
"At first I was doing it to stay in shape for soccer, but I met so many amazing people," she said. "Coach Carter (Nat) is an amazing person and you do not want to disappoint him so I just kept going back every year.
"I love the feeling after a race – the accomplishment, the PR (personal record) and knowing you can go the extra mile."
Lindell was a member of the National Honor Society at Union Pines and earned all-conference recognition as a member of the soccer team. A new program that went into effect for the 2017-18 academic year helped make her decision about where to attend college.
"In high school we learned about Sandhills Promise and I thought, "wow" that sounds like a great opportunity," she said. "Why wouldn't I take advantage of that?
Under the program that went into effect for the 2017-18 academic year, Moore and Hoke County residents, who graduate from a public/private high school or registered home school having completed four dual enrollment courses at Sandhills, pay no tuition at the college for the two years immediately following high school graduation.
Lindell has enrolled in the associate in arts program with a major in psychology. Undecided about a career she thinks she might like to complete her schooling at UNC-Wilmington.
In Carter and Moody, Lindell has linked up with a pair of coaching icons. At the Sandhills Track Club, and at Union Pines, Carter has put his stamp on several generations of runners, including Moody as a teenager in 1969.The gymnasium at Aberdeen Elementary School is named after the teacher and coach.
Over a 25 year period, Moody has coached at Pinecrest High School and UNC-Pembroke and is a member of the athletic halls of fame at both places. He also earned three national titles as a runner.
The first meet for the Flyer women and men is the Chick-Fil-A Invitational hosted by Catawba College in Salisbury on September 2.
"I'm really excited to do this," Lindell said. "I feel I'm not only going to be running for myself but to push the team forward. This is the first year we are doing it so we want to come out big."