Alex Forte '03
Women's track & field and cross country
September 30, 2013
Meet women’s track & field and cross country standout Alex
Forte ’03, who was inducted this fall into the Dickinson College Sports Hall of
Once upon a time, Alex Forte ’03 was a semi-motivated runner
who loved being part of a team but didn’t love working out. “I admit, I
sometimes gave my coaches a hard time,” she says with a laugh. “I just didn’t
see the point in all of that practicing.”
Today, the former student who once grumbled about practicing
is inspiring a new generation of runners to test their limits and discover what
they, too, can achieve.
For Forte, the turning point arrived at the close of a tepid
freshman year. “I realized that running was something I could be good at if I
just put the work into it,” she recalls. “So I trained hard all summer, just to
see what I could do. And when I got back I was suddenly one of the top runners.
I found out I loved to compete.”
Forte came in 14th at the Cross Country Nationals and seventh
at the Track & Field Nationals that year and was named Dickinson’s first
female All-American cross-country athlete. As a junior and senior, she had a
chance to compete in the finals again, this time as a part of the team.
“At the time it was all about the camaraderie and
competition,” she says of her running career. “But what I didn’t realize then
was that running is also sort of like a therapy for me, as it is for many
people. I need to run, just like some people need to write a poem or paint a
picture or read a good book.”
After graduation, Forte moved to Japan, where she taught
English and worked as an assistant coach for three years. Then it was off to
Thailand for additional ESL certification and to New York, to earn her M.A. in
English education. Finally, Forte settled in Culpepper, Va., where she teaches
middle- and high-school English and coaches middle- and high-school cross
country and track. She says she’s found her niche.
“What’s great about being a teacher and coach is that you get
to help students discover who they are and what they like to do in these very
different contexts and settings,” she explains. “I get to know different sides
of them, and I get to help them learn and explore in different ways.”
Occasionally, one of Forte’s former students will stop by to
catch up—one of them, Charlie Bayne ’15, has even followed Forte’s footsteps to
Dickinson, where he’s a member of the men’s track team.
In turn, Forte stays in touch with her Dickinson coaches, whom
she sees in a different light these days. She says she often jokes with Don
Nichter, cross country/track & field head coach about the tough time she
gave him, way back when.
“I didn’t realize it then, but my teachers and coaches at
Dickinson really dedicated a big part of their lives to helping us, because
they wanted us to succeed,” says Forte. “And that’s what attracted me to
teaching and coaching—I wanted to do the same thing for my students that they
did for me.”