Senior runner commits to Duke

Thais Rolly commits to play at Duke University after running her whole life

Senior Thais Rolly has recently committed to Duke to play at the collegiate level for cross county, indoor track, and outdoor track.

“Committing to Duke just seemed like the right thing to do,” senior Thais Rolly said. “It fits me really well, and I think I’ll be super successful here.”

Rolly has been running since she was a little girl.

“I feel like running is a sport I’ve always done,” senior Thais Rolly said. “I didn’t really start doing track until around third grade, but I’ve been running 5K’s my whole life.”

Rolly thanks her father for taking her so far in her running career.

“My dad has been running his whole life, and I always looked up to him for that,” Rolly said. “He coaches me and gives me my training. Most of the time, I’ll do my workouts by myself with his guidance.”

The McLean coaches do not coach Rolly, but she still practices with the team regularly. 

“I’ll go and do easier recovery runs with McLean’s team. The high school coach’s training philosophy doesn’t really work with me, so I’ve been able to succeed because of my dad’s training. I still train with the team, and I still compete for my team most of the time. I love my team, and I’m very close with many of my teammates, but I just don’t train with the high school coach. I compete for McLean and also individually.”

Rolly has not always been the runner she is today, however. She struggled to stay motivated for the sport in her earlier years of high school.

“My freshman year, I wasn’t really that good at running because I didn’t train; I just walked all my runs,” Rolly said. “Meeting some of my teammates who really loved to run inspired me to have a passion for the sport, so that’s when I started to take running more seriously. Once I started trying more [in] my sophomore year, I won States for cross country. It just shows how being surrounded by other people helps me, especially when they have the same goals as me.”

Rolly’s entire family consists of competitive runners, but her dad has especially made her succeed as he helped her polish up her skills to become such an advanced runner.

“Over the past four years, I had a blast coaching Thais,” said Philippe Rolly, Thais’ father. “It has been relatively easy because we have the same passion for running and understand each other. As a former elite runner, I try my best to guide her to achieve her goals. I see myself more like a counselor than a coach, and I make sure she doesn’t train too hard.”

Rolly’s friends and family cannot wait for the future and the wonders Rolly will do at Duke as a runner. 

“I was very happy about it because I wanted her to go to Duke,” said Thais’ teammate Anna Ruso. “When it was between Duke and Harvard, I was all for Duke because I think it fits her better as a person. Although she’s really good at her academics, Harvard was just too academic-focused for her. Duke provides her with a good balance. I’m very happy she’s committed here.”

Not only did the comparatively less rigorous education at Duke attract her here, but so did the running team.

“I’m most excited for their team because they’re like a family, and I felt like I immediately clicked with them. I’m just so excited for college and being able to run with these amazing girls that I can surround myself with while also pursuing my academic passions,” Rolly said.

Rolly seeks to take an alternate career path than running after Duke but sees herself running forever.

“I want to run for the rest of my life, but I think I’d rather pursue [another] career after college. I’ll always run, but just not competitively and not at the same caliber that I am right now. I want to go to medical school or pursue a career in global health,” Rolly said.

Whatever Rolly decides to do for her profession, her family will support her.

“We are very excited for Thais to run at Duke,” Mr. Rolly said. “I think it’s one of the best schools in the U.S. to achieve big goals academically and athletically. The future will reveal if she wants to pursue a running career after college or not; I’m just here to guide her and be her biggest fan.”

Rolly is fulfilled with how she has learned to love running for herself and not for anyone else.

“You should really love the sport you’re doing,” Rolly said. “Sometimes, people do sports just to appease their parents or their peers, but if you intrinsically love it, and you’re passionate about it, that’s what will make you succeed. With [this] in mind, if you set your mind to any goals you have for your sport, you can do it.”