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Work ethic drives Calvin hurdler
By Peter Boumgarden
Laura Hamilton
Laura Hamilton (Downers Grove, Ill.)

High goals are nothing new for Laura Hamilton. As a high school athlete at Timothy Christian High School in suburban Chicago, Hamilton competed at the varsity level in three different sports all four years of her high school career.

When Hamilton came to Calvin in the fall of 2001, she narrowed her focus to the track and produced instant results. As a freshman, she garnered All-American accolades for her team’s fourth-place finish in the 4 X 400 relay at the NCAA III Championships, while also qualifying individually in the 400-meter hurdles. Hamilton also captured the MIAA title in the 400 hurdles at the league championships and successfully defended her crown at this year’s MIAA Championships.

Hamilton then made a return trip to the NCAA III Championships this past May, as she ran a leg on Calvin’s All-American 4x100-meter relay team that finished sixth. Hamilton also qualified individually in the 400 meter hurdles for the second straight year and just missed an All-America berth in the event, finishing ninth despite being seeded 17th heading into the meet. Hamilton qualified for the finals in the 400-meter hurdles with a personal-best time of 1:01.85, becoming just the third individual in Calvin women’s track and field history to clock a time under 62 seconds in the event.

Heading into college, Hamilton had never competed in the 400-meter hurdles.

“As a freshman, I was so nervous at nationals that I missed out on soaking in the atmosphere of being at a national meet,” she said. “Having a year under your belt definitely helps. This year, I knew what to expect and was much more relaxed. It made the overall experience much more enjoyable.”

According to Calvin head track and field coach Jong-Il Kim, Hamilton’s success is due just as much to her work ethic as it is to her talent. “Laura works as hard as any athlete I have ever coached,” said Kim. “As a coach at the collegiate level, you love to see a student-athlete work to develop their talents, and Laura has done that in many ways.”

“I owe a lot to our coaching staff, particularly Coach Kim,” said Hamilton. “He saw the athletic talents God has given me and has helped me to develop those gifts. When I was in high school, I never thought I could run this fast. To be able to run for a team like Calvin, with the kind of athletes and coaches that we have, is a real blessing.”

Yet all her athletic achievements are only a part of who she is. A chemical engineering major with a 3.94 grade point average, Hamilton was named to the Verizon Academic All-District IV team in track and field this spring. During the summer, she planned to serve an internship with the BP Oil and Gas Company.

“I had planned on majoring in engineering because I really like math and science,” said Hamilton. “I really enjoyed a materials science course I took during my freshman year, and that helped lead me to chemical engineering.”

Finding a balance between athletics and academics is not always easy but it is something that Hamilton has been able to achieve.

“Being an athlete and an engineering major is all about balance,” Hamilton noted. “It can be done, but it definitely means that you can not always act like the normal college student."