After seven months in Florida back in 2017, Katie Wise was at a crossroads. She had re-injured the same hamstring that forced her to miss her senior season of track at Indiana State; this time, it meant the end of what she had hoped would be a professional career.
The 2012 Indian Creek alumna, who graduated from ISU in December 2016 with a degree in elementary education, returned home and started working as a volunteer coach at Marian University; she has since landed a full-time position on the Knights’ staff as an assistant coach. She works with the men’s and women’s sprinters and helps with the team’s recruiting efforts.
“I knew I always wanted to coach,” Wise said. “I just thought I was going to teach elementary and then be a high school coach; that was my goal. I thought I was going to be down in Florida for eight years, 10 years … and get into teaching then. Obviously, it didn’t go as planned.”
Wise had plenty of reason to believe she had a longer future in running. As a junior at Indian Creek, she was the 2011 state champion in the 100-meter dash, posting a time of 11.91 seconds; her efforts helped the Braves place 16th as a team. She then went on to qualify for the NCAA indoor and outdoor meets as a member of the Sycamores, earning indoor first team All-America honors as a sophomore by placing fifth in the 60-meter dash.
She was a second team All-American during the 2014 and 2015 outdoor seasons and had big plans for her fourth and final year after dropping her times from 11.91 to 11.15 seconds in the 100 meters and 24.50 to 23.06 in the 200 — but Wise tore a hamstring during the first meet of her senior season, then tried to come back too soon and wound up missing the entire year.
“Senior year didn’t happen for me, which was a major disappointment,” Wise said. “I had high goals, and I felt like I was getting to where I needed to be to break 11 seconds, to break 23 seconds.”
After graduating, Wise gave it one more go on the track, training with professional coaches in Florida. But when her hamstring failed her again, it was time to pivot to something else.
She’s happy with the lane she’s found for herself at Marian, where she’s even teaching some elective physical education courses on the side (“I’m kind of using my degree,” she said). Wise hasn’t ruled out getting a master’s degree so that she can do more teaching.
For now, she’s more than content with life as a coach, where she gets to build relationships with recruits and fine-tune the technique of other sprinters.
“Track and field’s always been a passion of mine,” Wise said. “When I found out I wasn’t going to be able to run again, I was like, ‘Track’s all I’ve known.’ I wasn’t sure what to do at that point, but once I got involved, I absolutely fell in love with the coaching aspect of it. I still get to be around the sport that I love and I get to help others be better.”