SAAC Spotlight: Montana State Billings' Aspen Tolman
Tolman is an Academic All-Conference Team student-athlete in both cross country and track and field, setting MSUB’s fastest indoor 5K time of the 2021-22 indoor track season with a 22:49.66.
Tolman is an Academic All-Conference Team student-athlete in both cross country and track and field, setting MSUB’s fastest indoor 5K time of the 2021-22 indoor track season with a 22:49.66.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Part of a regular series.

Throughout the year, uses this space to profile conference student-athletes who are members of their respective institutions’ Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). In addition to providing feedback on the student-athlete experience, conference and institutional SAAC members also offer input on the rules, regulations, and policies that affect student-athletes’ lives on NCAA member institution campuses.

Name: Aspen Tolman
Sport: Cross Country/Track and Field
Institution: Montana State Billings
Year: Junior
Major: Human and Health Performance (with a Teaching Licensure)
Hometown: Westminster, Colorado

Why did you choose to attend MSUB?: I was looking for a college to meet my various needs and MSUB ended up being the perfect fit. When I visited the campus, I felt comfortable and the school felt right for me. The education programs and athletic opportunities provided matched my needs in having a successful college life.

What is your favorite class you have taken in college and why?: "Education and Democracy" was one class that I went in dreading. It turned out that I had extremely misjudged the class. Professor David Blair did an amazing job in making the class an educational sanctuary. The class was filled with several hands-on projects and demonstrations.

Who is your favorite professor to date and why?: David Blair. He is an amazing professor who made classes entertaining and non-overbearing. I felt like he truly understood what we needed as students.

What made you want to be involved in SAAC?: SAAC is an important organization for athletes in all campus colleges. Being involved has allowed me to help encourage a healthy community for athletes across campus.

What is your most memorable SAAC activity to date?: The 2022 Division II SAAC Convention in Orange County, California.

What is the most important thing you've learned from balancing the demands of athletics and academics?: Life is messy. It's easy as a student to be caught up in pouring all of your time into education and athletics. Sometimes it's important to take a step back and enjoy other aspects of your life. Take a breath because if you don't, you'll eventually run out of air.

What is the biggest obstacle you have overcome during your collegiate career?: My collegiate career has been arguably unusual and challenging. The biggest challenge that I have faced was finding joy in the spirit of running. After facing performance-limiting and halting health issues, I was terrified of running. Practices became a mental battlefield of pushing my body when my mind wanted to check out. My patient coaches, teammates, parents and athletic trainers all helped me to find that joy, allowing me the grace of not being perfect or competitive, and rather to focus on being happy.

What are your future goals after graduation?: Working in elementary schools as a physical education teacher. I'm planning on possibly coaching track, cross-country, soccer, swimming or volleyball during the summer.

What is the best advice you would give to an incoming freshman?: Do not overthink this! College can be scary and overwhelming. It also can be fun and exciting. You will have many ups and downs throughout your time at college. Live in each moment.

What is your favorite part about being in the GNAC?: My favorite thing about being a part of the GNAC is the opportunity to be a part of a program in which other student-athletes face similar challenges while pursuing similar goals.

What is your favorite sports-related moment?: As a sophomore in high school, I was competing for a spot on the varsity. At our league race, the top seven girls to cross the line from our team would move on to regionals. I was racing very well and ahead of my typical position when I was halted with a mile left due to lightning. The race wasn't going to be rerun but those who wanted to could join the open girls' race. Being that I wanted to prove my worth for the spot, I opted in to completely start from scratch, and an hour later, I re-ran my race. I ended up running my second fastest time of the season. However, the most memorable part was not ever being alone on the course. My team worked hard to make sure that over the course of three miles, I couldn't even hear my name. But the thought was that even though they were not physically running next to me, they were always there.

If you could spend the day with one person (past or present), who would it be and why?: I would spend it with my sister. As cheesy as she is, she honestly is my best friend and someone I value my time with. Being that both of us are in college, the time we get to spend together has been limited.

Favorite Sports Team: Denver Broncos

Favorite Athlete: Peyton Manning

What is one thing that people don't know about you?: I love singing and I have wanted to perform at a performance level. However, my performance anxiety makes that dream impossible.