We recently sat down with Kristen (Ameling) Robinson who competed in Track & Field. Kristen was a four-time national qualifier in shot put from 2006-09 who earned First Team NCAA All American status with 4th place finish in 2009. She was the GLIAC champion in shot in 2009 and also had two runner-up finishes in her career in conference championship competition. Enjoy our Q&A with Kristen.
What first attracted you to Tiffin University?
While searching for colleges to attend, I knew I wanted to go to a small college or University and study Accounting. Tiffin University has a very strong business program so that was one reason I was drawn to the school. In addition, I wanted to be far enough away from home to live on campus and be on my own, but I didn’t want to be too far away either. Along with the academic draw, I also committed to play basketball for the Dragons. Athletics have, and continue to be, a major part of my life, so the opportunity to play a sport in college while also getting a quality education was a win-win for me. Track and field wasn’t part of the equation when I first stepped foot on campus, but as things turned out, it ended up being the reason why I truly fell in love with Tiffin University.
What was your biggest challenge to overcome as an athlete/coach?
My biggest challenge was learning the technical aspects of throwing and also learning how to properly lift weights. I was very inexperienced when it came to both throwing and lifting, so I had to really learn the basics the first couple years before I could see substantial improvements in my marks. I threw shot put and discus in grade school and high school, but we didn’t always have a dedicated throws coach, so it was a big learning curve for me when I joined the team.
What do you feel was the highlight of your athletic playing/coaching career?
The highlight of my career was when I qualified for Indoor Nationals and placed 4th in the shot put my senior year. I worked so hard the summer before my senior year to get stronger in the weight room and get more throwing reps in that it was very rewarding to see the hard work pay off. I never expected that I would become an All-American in Track and Field at the collegiate level, so it definitely was a pretty proud moment. To top it off, my parents were in Houston to watch me compete and celebrate with me, and that meant so much to have them there too as they have always been and continue to be my #1 supporters!
Who were some of your closest friends/associates from your playing/coaching career?
The friends that I made while being part of the track and field team really are the reason why I had such an amazing time at Tiffin University as a student-athlete for 4 years. I still remember walking into the YMCA in the spring of 2006 for my first practice with the throwers. They had already been practicing together since the fall, so I was the newbie to the group but never once did I feel like I wasn’t welcome. I instantly fit in and to this day several of my closest friends are people I met that day. Jason Werling was, and still is, a mentor and very close friend. He was a really good thrower, but an even better person and leader. I have him to thank for encouraging me to apply for an internship at Marathon Petroleum Company and now ten years later I still love my job and the company that I am blessed to work for. Not to mention, Jason works just down the hall from me, so I am still relying on him for help, advice, and mentoring to this day. Kathy Kernen and Danielle Peterson (“DP”) were my roomies and teammates that I would have been lost without. There was never a dull moment when I was with them and the smiles and laughs were endless. Kathy was, and is, the friend that I can count on for anything and everything, including introducing me to my husband, Ray. Leanne Lucius was also a teammate while on the basketball team and a roommate for a year, and she was another one of the reasons why my time at TU was so special. Even though my time playing with her didn’t last long, she was one of my closest friends all 4 years at Tiffin and we are now comparing stories about our kids instead of comparing stories about our test scores or practice sessions! Last, but not least, Ray Robinson. There are no words to describe what it meant having him as a teammate, supporter, and best friend. He was the main reason why I was able to achieve the level of success that I did my senior year.
Who were some key coaches/administrators that helped you during that period?
My Throws Coach Keith Vance and Head Coach Jeremy Croy deserve much of the credit for the time and effort they put in to my training and the track program. Coach Vance always found a way to make throwing and lifting fun, even if I didn’t enjoy all the hours in the weight room deadlifting and squatting until I couldn’t walk. Coach Jeremy Croy.. what else can be said that hasn’t already been said before? He has dedicated his life to this University and this track and field program, and without him I would not be receiving this award. He welcomed me to the track team without hesitation, and from that day on he was supportive of everything I did and gave me every opportunity to be successful. I cannot thank him enough for what he has done for me, my family, and the track program.
Who do you feel had the biggest influence in helping you achieve success on and/or off the field?
Without a doubt, my coaches, teammates, and family were the reasons I was able to achieve the success I did. Although track and field can be a very individual sport, especially when it comes to the throwing events, without the support, motivation, and dedication of those around me, I wouldn’t have had the drive to work as hard as I did to achieve the level of success that I achieved. One person in particular deserves most of the credit, and that is my husband Ray Robinson. During the summer between our junior and senior years, I worked as an intern at Marathon so I was working a 40 hour a week Monday through Friday schedule. Ray would wait until I got home from work to go out and throw with me or get our lifts in, and without that support and dedication I wouldn’t have made it as far as I did my senior year.
What was the most important thing you learned during your time at TU?
One of the most important things I learned during my time at Tiffin University was that you are capable of doing anything you put your mind to, if you are willing to work hard and dedicate the time to it. Track and Field wasn’t even on my radar when I first set foot on campus in the fall of 2005, but now I can’t imagine what my life would be like without Tiffin Track and Field. I also learned that it is important to surround yourself with the right people. I was fortunate enough to have fantastic professors, mentors, coaches, and teammates while at Tiffin, many of which I am still close with today. The people really are what make this University so special to me and are the reason why my family and I have remained in Tiffin.
How have you used your Tiffin University experience in your post-collegiate career?
The experiences I had while at Tiffin have allowed me to become successful in my career in a variety of ways. The business program at Tiffin is outstanding and the Accounting professors I had really prepared me to be successful when I moved on to the workforce. I learned how to work effectively in a group setting, how to be self-motivating, and how to meet deadlines, all of which are extremely important in both my current position and all of my prior ones as well. Also, my athletic career taught me how to manage my time and multi-task, something that comes in handy being a full-time working mom and coach’s wife! I have been fortunate enough to remain very involved at Tiffin University and with the Track and Field Program, and I honestly couldn’t imagine my life without it. Go Dragons!