Alumni spotlight: Luke Malone


University of Illinois Chicago

Alder graduate Luke Malone races for Chicago.

Emma Kennedy, Staff Writer, Editor

Alder graduate Luke Malone (Class of 2020) is in his junior year at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC). As part of a series with Alder graduates who have continued their sports career up until today, I asked Malone about his running career. Malone talks a lot about how college sports impact his college experience and why he made the decision to run at a collegiate level. 


Q: You run cross country and track for UIC right?

A: Yep, I do both.


Q: And you’ve been running for three years?

A: Yeah, this is my third year of college running. 


Q: Were you offered a scholarship to run for UIC?

A: I’m a walk-on here, no scholarship. 


Q: What made you want to continue running in college?

A: I mean, I love running so there’s that, but it’s also a great opportunity and it’s a privilege to be able to push myself and see how good I can be at this level and I have four or five years to do that, so I just want to see how good I can be really. I love my teammates [and] I love the environment I’m in. It’s one of those things where it’s just like I want to see how good I can be in the time that I have. 


Q: How do high school cross country and track compare to college cross country and track?

A: The expectations are just a lot different and the workload is different as well. In high school, I was only running up to 60-65 miles/week at my very peak, and in college, I’ve gotten up to 106 miles/week now, so it’s just a lot more intense. Everything has to be very calculated and on point; you can’t be skipping the little things or else it’s really gonna show. The overall workload is just a lot more intense, and everything has a purpose, so it’s not as much fun and games as high school is. I think both are great, but yeah, the environment is just a lot more intensive I would say. 

Malone running with his teammates. (Luke Malone)

Q: How does running in college affect your college experience?

A: Being a student-athlete in general, especially as a runner, takes up a lot of my time, it takes up a lot of my mental space; it’s something that’s always on my mind. Doubled with school, I don’t really have much free time. I’m also on a few different athletic committees; I’m on our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, I’m on my Conference’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and then I’m on the Chancellor’s Athletic Advisory Council. It’s a lot of meetings and we work on a lot of initiatives, and doubled with school and running it’s just very busy. It’s pretty much just waking up in the morning, running, going to class, working on projects, running again if I have to, going to meetings and then going to bed. So it doesn’t leave a lot of time for social activities or free time. My weekends are usually spent working on projects and running. It’s one of those things where you really have to enjoy what you do to get through it or else it’s just not gonna work out so it’s a great thing that I actually enjoy doing what I do. 


Q: I know some schools have advisors that help you work around practices and schedules; do you have advisors or anything like that or are you kind of on your own?

A: So with the design program here, the classes are blocked out in these sections that are already made. So luckily I have an athletic academic advisor that helps me work around any conflicts I might have and helps me get approval for missing class for meets and other conflicts like that. But it’s usually pretty straightforward with the classes. Most of the industrial design classes are two hours and forty minutes long. For example, I have a class today from 4 to 6:40 p.m. That’s my only [in person] class of the day, but then I have online classes and other work to be getting done as well, so yeah, I do have good resources to help me work through conflicts like that. 


Q: What would you say to anyone kind of on the fence about playing sports in college?

A: I think the biggest thing I would say is don’t do it for the clout; do it because you actually love it and because you want to do it or else you’re only going to last a year and then it’ll be a waste of your time. Especially in Division I athletics; you have to be committing to it because you  actually want to do it and you have to be ready to sacrifice a lot of social time. It’s a great experience if you have the chance to do it, so I would recommend it, but just know that what you’re getting yourself into is at a whole other level than what high school is, so you have to really enjoy your sport. You also have to be a decent student so you can balance both athletics and academics, because it’s definitely not an easy task. 


(Left to right) Malone and his teammates, Maxum, Mark, and Carlos pose for a picture. (Luke Malone)

Q: What’s your favorite memory, whether it’s cross country or track, in college?

A: I think my favorite memory so far was probably …last year [at] the Horizon League Cross Country Championships. Our team got third, and I think we came into the season ranked fifth or seventh or something like that, so we finished in the top three of the teams scoring, which was pretty awesome. My teammate Carlos won the race as well, so that was a pretty special moment for us. That was definitely one of the best team performances we’ve ever had, so that was a really sweet memory. 


Q: What would you consider to be the greatest accomplishment of your college career up to this point?

A: I mean being on that team that got third was pretty awesome. I think the biggest accomplishment honestly is [when] I had an accident this fall that kind of took me out for quite a long time, and I’ve since then been able to make a pretty good comeback and I’m back into shape, so I think just coming back from that accident, finishing the semester with a 4.0, and sticking with it and now being in the position to race in the upcoming weeks; I think that’s a pretty big accomplishment. Yeah, I think just sticking through adversity like that is probably my biggest accomplishment so far in college. 

Q: On a scale of 1-10, one being the worst and ten being the best, how would you rate your college sports experience so far?

A: It is what you make of it…I’ll give it an eight…and that’s the other piece of advice I’d give to anybody going to college; you can go pretty much anywhere and have a pretty great experience. I’d say don’t get caught up too much in where you’re going, go into that school with an open mind, and know that you’re going to make awesome experiences and memories. Just know you can decide how good your college experience is going to be. It’s a choice and you just have to put yourself out there, go to stuff, and try to enjoy it.