Courtney Rockness: Running for Life

By Gloria Coleman

Courtney Rockness stared at the doctor, scared to hear the news. He quickly stated, “You won’t be able to run for a while,” not even trying to lessen the blow. Courtney felt like this was one of the lowest moments in her life, and she was not ready for it. Running was her passion. How could she live without it, even temporarily?

Courtney grew up around the United States, having moved her fair share of times. Her family lived in California when she was very young. There her father worked as a youth pastor for her uncle’s church, having studied to be a teacher at Wheaton College. He was also in seminary in Massachusetts at the time. This put a strain on both the family and him, being in school online and long-distance, especially pre-COVID.

They moved to Connecticut where he became a head pastor at a church. Once Courtney’s father had his doctorate degree, the family moved one last time to North Carolina. He is still the head pastor at a church near Charlotte now. 

They also were able to move next to the extended family in North Carolina. Courtney loves the fact that they lived almost an equal distance from the sea, the mountains, and the city. She also really appreciated the neighborhood where they lived, and how close her high school, especially the track team, was. It was a small school, so everyone knew everyone. 

Coming to College

She originally came to Wheaton with plans to be a business major and connecting that to art somehow. But when she started talking to people, she realized that she would rather be solely in some kind of art major. She had found her passion, and could not see herself leaving it. 

Courtney is graduating in 2021, receiving a Batchelor-in-Arts in Studio Art with a concentration on graphic design. She is hoping to use this at a publishing house or a magazine company in layout design. Already, she uses her skills to help design the brochures and pamphlets at her church back home in North Carolina. 

Courtney is the second oldest of six girls. Her older sister attended North Carolina State University and became a middle school teacher, while Courtney herself was the trailblazer who brought her and her next younger sister to Wheaton College. With said younger sister being a sophomore at Wheaton and Courtney a senior this year, they are both trying to persuade the next in line, a senior in high school, to join them in attending Wheaton; but they are not yet sure if they will be successful in this. 

Back to the Running

One thing that Courtney’s family kept consistent throughout their moves and their lives is their passion for running. With her father running marathons and her mother running to stay in shape, it was only a matter of time before young Courtney was brought into the running sphere. The older sister who attended NCSU did not run in college, but Courtney is on both the Cross Country and Track teams at Wheaton and her sophomore sister also is on the Track team. The youngest three sisters are not as into running as Courtney herself, but they still run in their respective high and middle school teams. 

Courtney actually did not plan to run in college originally. But her family persuaded her to email the coach; after running with the team on her connection trip, she knew that she couldn’t resist. “It was kind of like this spontaneous, like last-minute thing,” she remembers, but she is happy with that decision. 

She is very happy to be running at Wheaton, even if she had to take a break from that because of a stress fracture during her freshman year. While she took the injury hard, Courtney says, “I had to learn that winning is not everything and that sometimes giving your best every day means not even running at all.” 

She now is back to running, mentioning that she runs about 8 miles on a normal day. She was also one of the Cross Country team Captians during the 2020 season. 

Courtney loves Jesus, running, and art; if you ever spend time with her, you will realize this quickly. Her roommate, Heidi, described her as “fun, likes to do art projects, not quite a procrastinator but also not someone who works way ahead, a good listener, and someone who empathizes well.” Courtney is someone I would recommend to know. She is sweet and caring and would be a good friend to have.