Calli Doan reflects on legendary career with Liberty track team

Not many can fly on the track like Liberty’s Calli Doan. In her four years as a Flame, the senior has claimed endless titles and broken numerous records. 

Now, nearing the end of an astounding career on the Mountain, what may astound others more is the fact that the North Carolina native almost didn’t pursue the journey that is a collegiate running career.  

Doan’s first introduction to the world of competitive running came in the fifth grade, when she entered a 5k for her church. Being the fastest kid in her class drew attention from people in the church and helped inspire a career of impressive records and accomplishments. Soon after that, Doan started running more and more, improving every time she set foot on the track. 

In seventh grade, Doan’s school started sports,  and she felt drawn to join the track team to continue her improvement. Although running was simply a fun hobby for her to have, in her junior year of high school, she felt God calling her to continue her journey through her collegiate years. 

“My narrative isn’t like the normal runner’s narrative,” Doan said. “Normally, you would plateau and have a big drop, then plateau. … But every single year that I ran, I improved.” 

Doan also acknowledged that her coach played a big role in her improvement throughout high school.

 “It wasn’t anything crazy, just consistent training … He trained us in a way that we would continue to benefit in college.” 

The Indoor Track Brant Tolsma Invitational third day is photographed in the Liberty University Indoor Track center on January 22nd, 2022. (Photo by Chase Reed) The Indoor Track Brant Tolsma Invitational third day is photographed in the Liberty University Indoor Track center on January 22nd, 2022. (Photo by Chase Reed)

That training has paid in dividends to Doan, as throughout college, she has collected 14 All-ASUN honors, six individual titles and received the NCAA D1 All-America Honors in 2021. She has broken records at Liberty and continues to top her own times for Liberty. 

Being the youngest of four siblings, choosing Liberty was a natural choice for Doan. Both her mother and her siblings spent their college years at the Mountain, making it an easy decision to follow in their footsteps. But would she blaze her own trail on the track?

“It was never a question of the school, just if I was going to run on the (track) team or not,” Doan said.

While Doan would not be the first in her family to go to Liberty, she finally made the choice to be the first in her family to go as an NCAA athlete. 

“I actually committed academically before I committed athletically,” Doan said. 

Now, in her fifth season as a Liberty athlete, Doan has race day down. When race days come around, the time spent preparing involves a lot of visualization. Doan, however, also spends a lot of time praying, asking God for peace before setting foot on the starting line. But the prayer doesn’t stop when the starting gun fires. Throughout the race, she continues to pray for peace and wisdom throughout. This is a tradition that Doan has done since her sophomore year of high school. 

As she nears the finish line of her time as a Flame, Doan looks ahead to achieving her bachelor’s degree in exercise science, and she is currently pursuing a master’s degree in human performance. Doan, however, will always look back and see that the call to run was an integral part of God’s plan for her. 

Wilson is a sports reporter for the Liberty Champion

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