Sophia Briggs: The One-Shoe Wonder


Leona Gagalac, Editor

Sophia Briggs is a sophomore at FTHS, and despite only being in her second year at Township, she already has made significant strides in more than one activity. Recently, the Girls’ Varsity Cross Country team won the Shore Conference title, and in the race, her shoe ripped off her foot within the first twenty meters. Briggs persevered, finishing in 45th, allowing the Freehold Township team to win by six points over Rumson-Fair Haven. Walking into school one morning with her running bag and a trumpet case in her hand, Troy Bolton 2.0 sat down with the Patriot Press to talk about the race, rituals, music, and mantras that keep her going. 

And no, she does not hold a grudge against her fallen Hoka shoe. 

Read the full interview here:

Hi, Sophia Briggs! 

– Hi, Leona!

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

– I think I would stay in New Jersey, but I will live in Princeton because it’s just, like, so pretty there. My grandparents live there and Princeton is my dream college. 

Very nice. What song gets you ready for a meet? 

– Every time before a meet, the last song I need to listen to is “My Hero” by the Foo Fighters. So, yeah, that song gets me pumped. 

And any other rituals before a race?

– I always have another music thing. I always have to listen to “Rumors” by Fleetwood Mac, the A side on the record player the night before. I also have to wear the same clothes the night before, and I think that’s it.

That’s cool! Okay, now take us back to the day when the Township Girls’ Varsity Cross Country team won the Shore Conference Title. What was going through your mind right before the race? 

– Before the race, normally, I’m, like, a little nervous, but I’m also excited because I want to do well. But I know that it’s more of a team thing and all the pressure is on me. And it’s also more like being there for my team than being there for myself, which I think definitely takes the nerves off since I’m not worrying about my own personal race and things like that. I’m worried about being there for my team. 

A post-win photo of the Girls’ Varsity Cross Country team (pictured left to right: Sophia Briggs, Heather Feinstein, Leah Bloom, Emma Zawatski, Ava Biemuller, Leah Rutledge, and Caroline Cox).


And as most people know, you’re able to run the majority of the 5K race with one shoe. What mentally kept you going instead of stopping, something that most people would do in your position? 

– Like I said, I really wanted us to do well that day. And I knew that if I had stopped, I could have lost the race for us and I didn’t want to do that to the girls. I pictured myself finishing the race, like, in disappointment, mentally seeing the race get ahead of me if I did stop. I’d be letting my team down, so I really didn’t want that.

Definitely. Because, like you said, when you think of running, most people think of it as an individual thing where it’s, Oh, how can you do better? How can you PR? But in the end, it’s more of a collective team kind of thing. Considering that, what has Cross Country taught you? 

– Cross Country has taught me the importance of friendship and the importance of hard work as well. And what you put in, you get out. So we work so hard this summer. We worked every single morning, every single day after school.  And I think that we are some of the most hard working athletes in the school, and I think we get good results because of that.

Sophia embracing her dad, Coach Briggs, after a race.

And then I know you are a sophomore right now, so you have two more years of high school after this. But are there any people older than you, like upperclassmen now or people who graduated that you feel has influenced how you look at running or how you look at life in general? 

– Definitely. I’d say since there are so many juniors on our team right now, they’re kind of all like my older sisters, which I don’t have at home. So I definitely look up to them. I also look up to my dad, who is the coach. [Laughs.] And I think that it definitely gives me an advantage in some ways. But without my dad pushing me, everything pushing me physically and mentally, I don’t think I would be as successful as I am today. And I’m really grateful for that. 

That is so sweet! In addition to running, many people might not know that you’re also in the school’s band, and you’re very heavily involved in the music department, especially with playing the trumpet. So, how do you juggle these two aspects of your life, considering that you’re deeply involved in both and they’re very demanding?

– Lots of compromising, a lot of sacrifices. But my heart is almost, like, split in two between running and between music, and so sometimes I have to. Sometimes there are some compromises that I have to make, but in the end, I do my best to be there for both of my extracurriculars. 

And do you feel that each activity gives you different kinds of fulfillment, or do you feel they intersect in some ways? What do you feel like you’re getting out of being both part of the Cross Country program and the music program? 

– I think socially, it’s impacting me a lot. I can’t imagine walking into school, not having my trumpet and my running bag on me. It’s such a routine to see my band friends in the hallway as I go from class-to-class, as well as my running friends in the halls and at practice everyday. I think socially, I wouldn’t be as happy in high school if I didn’t have those friends that were made because of the extracurriculars. And I also think that physically and mentally, those activities have helped me more physically on the running side and more mentally on the music side. But in the end, I think I’m a much stronger and a much happier person because of these.

Oh, my gosh. I’m so impressed with how you manage and still stay grateful in the end. One parting kind of thing to ask, but with everything that you’ve been through in the last two years, you obviously have more life to live in the context of high school. What is one mantra or principle that you follow every day? 

– I want to have one, but I can’t think of one. Wait! In the beginning of the year, freshman year, they reminded us that high school only comes once and that it comes and it goes so fast. And I think that it’s a reminder. I remember to make most of it and to have the most amount of energy I can and to give that amount of energy to others. I want to make sure to make the most of it because surely enough, it’ll go by so fast and I don’t want to regret anything. No regrets.