When sidelined during the 2019 indoor track and field season, Kennedy Mogul would sometimes support her teammates by applying navy and white face paint. The York, Neb., native certainly qualifies as one of the more colorful personalities among Concordia University student-athletes. Leave it to her to organize a team social media video during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The education major and future teacher has a knack for making people smile. It’s quite a handy skill these days. The current circumstances really hit home over the weekend when Mogul and her teammates were scheduled to be in Orange City, Iowa, for the GPAC outdoor championship meet.
“Friday I was thinking at the end of the day that I would be done with the first day of my hep(tathlon),” Mogul said. “I was also thinking about how nice of weather we were having. We’ve had the greatest weather ever for an outdoor season and here we are – not on a track. It’s kind of sad.”
A former hurdles state champion at York High School, Mogul has developed into a major contributor for a program that has strung together three-straight GPAC team titles. She won the 2020 GPAC indoor pentathlon championship and was looking forward to making amends for an indoor national meet that did not go her way. Instead of making her mark inside Bulldog Stadium, Mogul is hammocking, kayaking, helping with the family mechanic shop and playing fetch with her dogs while back in York.
All the while, Mogul has done her best to stay connected with her teammates. She managed to get a large portion of the team to submit a video for a social media project that featured many members of the team appearing to pass a baton (or some type of throwing implement) to one another. Mogul has also been involved in team Bible studies via Zoom. She’s learned there’s no replacement for physical togetherness.
“I’m definitely not going to take for granted the interaction with people daily,” Mogul said. “There are times at school where I’d just want to get away because I was tired of people, but I’m never going to take that for granted anymore. I’d do anything to be with my teammates and classmates in person.”
What head coach Matt Beisel, his staff and athletes have built is something special. It’s quite understandable for Mogul and company to feel a sense of loss right now. Who wouldn’t want to keep all that momentum going? Not only had the Bulldog women’s team celebrated another conference championship, it had also placed fourth at the indoor national meet and brought back a trophy.
A big part of that success has been the bond formed between teammates. In a video of Rachel Battershell’s national championship-winning 400 meter race, her teammates can be seen – and heard – cheering wildly as Battershell crossed the finish line. They want to see each other succeed.
“In our practices you can see that we’re a team that’s going to get after it,” Mogul said. “It shows in our meets as well. Everyone just does their job and does their part, and everyone’s encouraging each other. It’s like a big family coming together and winning together. Our focus isn’t on the winning. It’s on the spiritual side more so than anything. We give praise to God more than anything else that we do.”
Mogul can praise God for a pretty advantageous setup she has in York. She says it was hard to find motivation when athletics were first canceled and classes went to online delivery. Mogul, who earns high marks in the classroom, has found a groove the best she can in these unusual times. Her surroundings have allowed for prime hammocking and kayaking opportunities.
She’s also attempting to maintain her GPAC championship form. Mogul is training with her brother’s basement weight equipment and has been able to access her high school’s track. She keeps up with Coach Todd Berner’s workouts through the TeamBuildr app and has also performed workouts designed by Coach Mark Samuels.
“The first couple weeks I was very unmotivated and just didn’t want to do anything,” Mogul said. “Then I started thinking about how next year’s my last season and I want to make the most of it. Also, I just really enjoy track. Once I get back on the track I remember why I do this. The more I practice now the better I’ll be next season, even though it’s a long ways away.”
In a performance that feels like it was so long ago, Mogul won the GPAC pentathlon title while piling up 3,181 points. Teammate and close friend Emily Loy placed as the runner up. Mogul says that the biggest challenge was staying mentally engaged with a large field of 14 athletes in the conference pentathlon competition.
Mogul and her teammates will also miss out on a chance to compete at the NAIA outdoor national meet in scenic Gulf Shore, Ala., where athletes typically descend every Memorial Day weekend. In addition, Mogul would have been getting experience teaching in a classroom setting had things been normal. Says Mogul, “We’ve realized that people are not supposed to meet online. We’re supposed to be meeting in person. It’s awkward and just different being online.”
For now, Mogul will kick back in a hammock and hopefully continue to entertain with her social media.