Usually when a student-athlete graduates, that means that they can no longer compete at the collegiate level, but that was not the case for many athletes this year. Senior athletes at Seattle Pacific University and every college associated with the NCAA have been awarded an extra year of eligibility after missing an entire season due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Despite the loss of a season, many athletes rose to the occasion and pushed themselves even harder. This was the case for former Falcon track and cross country star, Dania Holmberg.
Holmberg graduated from SPU in the spring of 2021 and had an amazing season which concluded with her winning both the 1500 meter race and the 5000-meter race at the Great North Athletic Conference Championship. After this meet, Holmberg was named the Women’s Track Athlete of the Meet.
Holmberg went on to compete at the NCAA Division II Championship where she placed ninth in 1500, securing a second-team All-American recognition.
Although Holmberg is no longer running for the Falcons this year, she is still being rewarded for her accomplishments. Holmberg was recently announced as the 2021 West Region Women’s Scholar-Athlete of the year by the Division II Conference Commissioners Association.
“I felt really honored. That is probably the best way to describe it. I love running and I loved being a part of SPU, especially the track team,” Holmberg said, “It was nice to be appreciated and recognized for all the hard work that I put in not only on the track but in the classroom,” Holmberg said.
Currently, Holmberg is using her extra year of eligibility to run cross country and track events at the University of Oregon, where she is now a graduate student.
“I graduated this past spring and I am doing a master’s program at the University of Oregon. The extra eligibility is a huge bonus for me because they are known for their track and cross country program. It’s been really cool to take the legacy that SPU gave me and now be a part of another really awesome legacy here at Oregon,” Holmberg said.
Although Holmberg does not attend SPU anymore, she is thankful that she is still being recognized for her time at the school. Holmberg will always look back on her SPU days fondly as she looks onto her future as an Oregon duck and beyond.
“I got really, really lucky with SPU’s program. I can’t speak for the other programs at SPU, but I do not think I would be able to run at this level if it hadn’t been for SPU. They got me here just as much as I got myself here,” Holmberg said. “I look back at my time at SPU athletics with such sweet memories and I miss being on the team because that was home for four years.”
Holmberg is happy to receive this honor and hopes that more athletes will celebrate the full potential of their gifts. She hopes to see more young athletes shoot for the stars, no matter what sport they are in.
“I think what freshman Dania needed to hear was to embrace my athletic ability. I think that all athletes need to hear this, especially those who don’t recognize their own talents. I did not come in as a confident runner, my coaches saw it before I did,” Holmberg said. “I didn’t see it yet, but I decided to trust in their words and look how far it’s taken me now. Hard work will get you farther than anything. Just truly embrace what you have been given and be honest in your effort.”
If you want to keep up with what Dania Holmberg is doing now, you can watch her statistics and races on goducks.com. Watch out for her first race on Sept. 23 at the Bill Dellinger Invitational in Springfield, OR.