Cross country teammates at TCU still jokingly call her a 12-year-old, even though she recently turned 20. But the original baby face, belonging to the memorable Emily Suarez, shows the growth and maturity of a trusty veteran these days.
In town to visit for a few weeks, Suarez informed that she now weighs all of 102 pounds, is halfway to completion of a bachelor’s degree in pre-med, and has some other interesting news.
Turns out that her bestie from the day (and today) is going to be married soon.
“It’s true! Leigha is getting married in September, and she is super excited about that,” said Sweet Pea, who teamed with Brown to give the Econ program a superior 1-2 punch in multiple sports. “Time flies, so yeah, she is getting married, and has already graduated from Arkansas. This week she is competing in her last NCAA championship.”
Brown and Suarez, so instrumental in giving the Lady Jags a mantle of excellence for four years each, have indeed moved on. Suarez has been with the TCU track/cross country team for two seasons, battling some injuries but still managing to place in the top six or seven on the roster.
“It’s been tough at times, but I am getting the hang of it,” she said. “There is very little down time, let’s just say that. School keeps me really busy and I am going to start observations at a hospital, which will make me even more busy. But all in all, it has gone really well, I am having a great time and I love Fort Worth a lot.”
The former All-Valley basketball performer has reconciled with having to compete in her No. 2 sport in college, putting in 70 miles a week during some stretches of the season. And being part of a Division I program had given her many opportunities beyond the track.
“I have been able to visit some great places, and have teammates from all over,” she smiled. “Minnesota, Florida, Kansas, California, there are only a few Texans on our team. Some cool girls, I have made some friends among them, and gone to visit them during breaks. The whole experience has been incredible for me.”
Incredible also is the path she has chosen in higher education. Suarez notes that along with her pre-med focus, she is also including speech pathology (and a Spanish minor) in the mix.
“Just to give myself some more options,” she explained. “I have a brother in that field, speech path, he lives in the area where I go to school, so he has been helpful with advice and maybe down the road, connections.”
Both her brothers, R.J. and Jonathan, are ex Jag hoopers and Suarez notes that when she was a kid, she used to go to all their games.
“I even made shot charts for them, I was, like, five years old,” she recalled fondly. “I always loved basketball and I still get out at TCU and run some games every now and then. But my sport is track now, which is weird because I used to hate to run!”
While visiting this summer, the ex city star has had the chance to unwind, contemplate the fall semester ahead, and take a summer course online. She has also been asked to speak at a few middle schools, including her alma mater, Harwell.
“I am not really a public speaker but I am getting better,” she suggested. “It’s important for me to be able to help those kids; I mean, I was there once upon a time, and I ended up doing what I am doing. It doesn’t matter where you come from, you can be successful that is part of the message.”
What she’s doing is what most people expected, which is continuing to be terrific, honest, and upbeat in all endeavors. Even as a 52-pound Lady Jags freshman, she had special stamped all over her, a can’t-miss prospect in all respects. Now it’s par for the course, to coin a cross country phrase.
“I guess I will always be a hard worker, so all the grind in college with sports and school doesn’t bother me at all,” she concluded. “One day when in high school I played four basketball games in a tournament and then went to run a 5K the same day. It was exhausting, but I was able to do it all.”