Beyond the Lines is a (bi)weekly profile story on a coach or athlete that goes beyond the fields and courts. The goal of these profiles is to discuss what makes them who they are– core values they live by, their relationships with others, what is meaningful to them, and more. Beyond the coaching and student-athlete roles these individuals play, at the end of the day we are all human.
When a student-athlete reaches a milestone or breaks a school record, it’s a massive accomplishment. But it’s even more of an achievement when a student-athlete breaks multiple. Over the span of a few months this past fall, senior cross-country runner Ramsey Little did exactly that.
Little broke the Vassar Farms course record back in early September by beating the previous time of 18:51.5, held by 2017 graduate Dietrich Mosel, with a new time of 18:32.6. The performance earned him his very first Ready Nutrition MAAC Co-Runner of the Week award. Later that month, he smashed another that Mike Melfi set in 1998, and became the first runner in Red Fox history to complete the Paul Short Run, an 8-kilometer race, in under 24 minutes. The performance earned him yet another Runner of the Week award, and eventually his second selection to the All-MAAC team the next month. Finally in November, he made history at the NCAA Northeast Regional Meet by finishing 14th overall, yet again besting Melfi who finished 25th in 1998.
But Little is not one to brag about it and recognizes that his success is largely influenced by his father, who ran 12 marathons and his sister, who ran track and field.
“I think just seeing him [his father] at a young age leaving the house and going for runs influenced me. And also my sister. She was involved in track while I was playing golf at a younger age. I remember going to one of her meets at a local park and just kind of seeing it and whatnot. And you know what I said? ‘Let me give this a shot myself.’ I ended up running in a recreational cross-country league, and realized, ‘Hey, I’m not bad at this,’” said Little.
Little continued running cross-country at Millburn High School, where he made friends who were amongst the best runners at their school. They won many county titles and Little was inspired by them. He followed suit and won two sectional titles and a county title as an upperclassman before ending up getting recruited by Marist.
The senior has learned a tremendous amount about himself in the sport, including how runners need pain tolerance to succeed. He also understands there are many challenges when it comes to running.
“I think running has really shown me that it’s never going to be a smooth path to success. It’s not going to be positive every day. And I think it’s really helped me to kind of learn that you’ve got to take the good with the bad. There’s been times where I train my butt off and perform really poorly. It’s taught me ways to learn how to adapt and navigate myself through those hard times,” said Little.
This also relates to the difficulties of being a student-athlete. Little will run 70-80 miles a week, which takes a toll on him physically and wears him out mentally and makes it challenging to motivate himself to finish assignments. But his parents Robin and James have been there to support him through everything.
“They’ve definitely helped me kind of navigate myself through my journey as a student athlete a little bit. My parents really helped strengthen me as a person and in getting me through the lows that I’ve had, whether it be with academics or athletics. I think I hold myself to a very high standard, and they keep my head up. I appreciate them and the support they give me,” said Little.
His siblings are also some of his biggest supporters, all of which are older than him except for his twin sister. There’s Jimmy, 39, Jesse, 37, Reese, 24, and Randi, 22. They all grew up in Short Hills, New Jersey, before everyone went on their own individual paths. Jimmy lives in California, Jesse still lives in New Jersey, close to home, Reese recently graduated from Ohio Wesleyan, and Randi goes to Loyola Maryland. Despite everyone’s location, he described his relationship with his family as “very tight” and that they’re everything to him.
If there’s one thing Little’s parents have taught all of their children, it’s that they should do what they love. For Little, despite the challenges he may face as a student-athlete, he gets to wake up and run every day. Even on the longest days, he gets to go to bed knowing he’ll wake up and run again.
Though his time at Marist may be coming to an end, Director of Track and Field/Cross-country Pete Colaizzo has seen Little grow over the last four years and has served as an outlet for the senior.
Little (right) and Colaizzo (left) following cross country meet
“I don’t know if I would’ve had as much success as a student athlete if it wasn’t for Pete. I’ve told him this multiple times, I think he’s a stellar coach. He cares more than just about the athlete, he cares about the person. If there’s times where I’m going through a lot of stuff, or I’m just mentally clogged up and there’s a race coming up, if it’s an invite, and I just need to get my head straight, he always allows me to make the right decision for myself. I think that’s something that has truly led me to have as much success as I’ve had,” said Little.
Little believes this team will only continue to improve with the quality recruits the program has brought in over the last few years. His job has been to serve as a mentor to the newcomers to help adapt to the Division I level and a new environment.
Despite all the records and accolades to his name, Little knows it’s due to his work ethic and support he’s received from family, friends, and teammates.
The senior hopes to continue running in graduate school for at least one more season as he approaches the next chapter of his life following graduation in May.
Edited by Andrew Hard
Photos from Ramsey Little