This past weekend at the Crimson Tide Invitational, Nicole Fegans lost her shoe after being tripped with two laps left in the 1500m. Fegans finished the race, placed second, and broke Tech’s 19-year-old school record for the women’s 1500 with a time of 4:18.95.
That bears repetition: Nicole Fegans’ shoe fell off partway through her race, and she didn’t just keep running and finish, she placed second and broke a school record.
Fegans said that even continuing that race was a split-second decision, one that certainly paid off: “I was coming around the curve by the 600m mark, got tripped up/pushed and realized my shoe was half hanging off and had to kick it off. I had a split-second thought of whether or not I wanted to drop out, because I knew I had a pretty good excuse if I did, but I knew I’d rather run a bad race with no shoe then drop out because I didn’t want to push through a race that didn’t go as planned.”
At this point in her athletic career though, Fegans’s performance last weekend is almost par for the course. It was the fourth time this year alone that she set a school record and is only a single example of her enormous contributions to the women’s track and cross country team.
Fegans, a fourth-year business administration major, holds a total of six school records for track: the indoor 5k (16:06.50), indoor mile (4:41.33), indoor 3k (9:06.92), the outdoor 1500m (4:18.95), outdoor 5k (15:37.16) and outdoor 4×1500 relay (18:15.33), along with three other runners in that event. Fegans set four of those records — the indoor 5k, the indoor mile, the outdoor 1500m and the outdoor 5k — within the past academic year. Her most recent indoor mile represents her third time breaking that particular school record.
Fegans said that the support of her family and her own internal motivation are among the most significant driving forces for her will to continue improving and achieving as an athlete: “One of the things that drives me is my parents. They have done so much to get me where I am today and it makes me want to keep pushing to be the best I can be – both on and off the track. The other thing that drives me as an athlete is the desire to keep getting better and better. Coming in to Georgia Tech, I remember thinking about the chance of getting a school record and thinking it would never be possible. It still shocks me at how much I have improved over the years and how the goals I never thought I could achieve, I’ve surpassed by a lot.”
This past fall, Fegans led the women’s cross country team to second place at ACC Championships, an all-time best finish for the team. She placed 9th overall and earned All-ACC honors for her performance. Then the women’s team achieved their best finish in school history at NCAA Nationals when they placed 20th, with Fegans placing 12th overall, the second-best individual performance at NCAAs in Tech history. She was honored as a first-team All-American for her effort, making her the third woman distance runner named All-American at Tech.
In addition to her first-team All-American honors for cross country, Fegans has also been acknowledged with second-team All-American honors this year for her indoor track performance at the NCAA indoor track and field championships, the second year in a row that she has earned second-team All-American status for her indoor performances.
While Fegans’s athletic career at Tech has been exemplary since her first season in 2017, this year as positioned her as, in head track & field coach Alan Drosky’s words, “the best ever distance runner in Georgia Tech history.” Drosky went on to say that “The combination of her performances and achievements are second to none… The difference in the last year, though, has been the rise in her confidence level. She knows what she is capable of, she trusts her preparation, and she is in command of her races. When all those factors come together, the sky’s the limit.”
Fegans and the rest of the track & field team will compete in two more invitational meets this season before ACC Championships. She will return to the Flats next year with an extra year of eligibility due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the past few seasons.
Nicole Fegans is a record-breaker. She is an All-American. She is a team leader. She earns these titles by being someone who does not let a momentary stumble and a lost shoe impede her confidence or her command of her goals.
In this way, Fegans embodies the ideals of all sports – persistence, self-discipline, and an enduring drive to accomplish even more than we believe of ourselves.