Running can offer people many things: a chance to exercise, a chance to escape reality, or a chance to find one’s identity. Sophomore Erica Toussant comes from a family where running is customary.
Her brother Chad ran cross-country for Ohio and her sister Lindsay is a senior distance runner at Toledo. Ohio coach Clay Calkins, after coaching Chad, was trying to keep things in the family.
“We’re always trying to recruit siblings. Toledo may have been a better fit for her sister,” Calkins said. “Erica has run well for us and she keeps improving, so hopefully that trend continues.”
For Toussant, running is more than continuing something for which she has a passion. It is the search for separation.
Erica and Lindsay ran together for two years at Minerva High School, about an hour south of Akron. When Lindsay attended Toledo in the fall of 2007, Erica, still a junior in high school, did not know where she planned to attend college. But she did realize that she did not want to go to Toledo.
“We didn’t want to impede on each other’s college educations and our time and our social lives, we didn’t want them to overlap,” Toussant said. “We’re really close (as siblings) but we wanted to give each other our space, our freedom to be ourselves.”
The siblings all started running at about the same time. Chad was cajoled into racing cross-country and track by high school coaches, and that motivated Erica to start in sixth grade. Lindsay, an eighth-grader at the time, needed more persuasion.
Originally a volleyball player, Lindsay saw Erica start running and picked it up herself — with a little encouragement from her sister, of course.
Lindsay said that she was able to make the switch after seeing her sister start running because volleyball was not going well.
The sisters compete against each other in the same conference — a large difference from racing together for the same high school. The Bobcats and Rockets compete at the same meet multiple times during both cross country and track seasons, including the Mid-American Conference Championships.
Despite constantly being adversaries at high-intensity meets, Erica said any rivalry between her and Lindsay is somewhat subdued.
“There is a little bit (of sibling rivalry) but she has always just been the more athletic type,” she said. “My brother and I (became runners) because we loved it and didn’t want to stop.”
Lindsay has a similar view on the subject of sibling rivalry.
“There tends not to be,” Lindsay said. “You always want them to do well.”
Running does not cause any rivalries or rifts for the Toussants. Both sisters said it allows the family to bond and be a close-knit group.
“We would always be running in the same place on the weekends, so it gave our parents the chance to be at every meet,” Lindsay said. “If we competed in different sports, they wouldn’t have that opportunity.”