Where are they now? Ann (Schwoeppe) Sonderman

Herald File Photo
Ann (Schwoeppe) Sonderman captured state titles in the 100- and 200-meter dashes as a Forest Park freshman and continued her career at the University of Wisconsin. She now helps coach her daughter’s middle school track team in Greenwood while also following the sports careers of her two high school boys.

Herald Sports Writer

Distance running just isn’t for her.

Truth be told, whenever Ann (Schwoeppe) Sonderman endures longer, leisurely jogs, the mileage makes her feet fall asleep.

Perhaps they’re bored.

After all, the 1986 Forest Park High School graduate hardly ever jaunted at a relaxed pace during her track career with the Rangers or at the University of Wisconsin thereafter.

Twenty-eight years after she departed Ferdinand for Madison, Sonderman’s daily tempo remains as quick as ever. The race, on the other hand, has taken on a differently formatted track.

Sonderman, who won state titles in the 100- and 200-meter dashes as a freshman in 1983, bolts around her family’s home in Greenwood, attending to the needs, obligations and wants of her three children, who range in age from 11 to 16.

She has lived in the town just south of Indianapolis since 1992 with her husband, Andy, also a Forest Park graduate.

After Ann, 45, graduated from Wisconsin and Andy graduated from the Indiana University School of Medicine, the two married in May of 1991 and moved to Fort Wayne for a year while Andy completed his residency, primarily at Parkview Hospital.

A year later, they moved to Greenwood. Sonderman accepted a teaching position at Shelbyville Middle School, where she taught sixth grade for five years. She then gave birth to the couple’s first child, Nathan, and took time off from teaching. Two years after that, Ann and Andy had their second child, Collin.


“Then things got busy,” kidded Sonderman, whose hectic schedule never permitted her to return to teaching.

Sprint forward some years and Nathan, 16, is entering his junior year at Indianapolis Roncalli while Collin, 14, will be a freshman there this fall. Sonderman’s third child, Emily, is 11 and will be a sixth-grader.

Hearing Sonderman’s schedule suggests she might operate faster now than she did while wearing spikes at Forest Park, where she blazed to personal bests of 11.70 seconds in the 100 and 23.50 seconds in the 200.

The kids’ sports index simply goes and goes and goes and. . . .

Nathan most enjoys football and swimming. Collin, already 6-foot-7, has a passion — fittingly — for basketball, also likes football and might give track a try next spring. Emily has taken a liking to all sports, though track, basketball and volleyball top the list.

Even before the school year kicks off, the summer offers quite the palette of activities. One Wednesday, Ann had to ship Nathan off to football at 9 a.m. Practice ended at 12:30 p.m. Back to the house for lunch. At 2, she zipped back to Roncalli for Collin’s basketball practice. An hour and a half later, practice concluded. People are hungry again. Back to Greenwood. Dinner better be ready soon.

“It consists of me being a chauffeur, pretty much,” said Sonderman, whose parents, Rich and Evelyn Schwoeppe, still live in Ferdinand.

But what about her track career?

The last races Sonderman competed in were at the 1993 Indiana State Games, where she snagged first place in both the 100 and 200.

She’s got the medals. Somewhere.

After leaving Forest Park as a two-time state champ, Sonderman helped Wisconsin earn two Big Ten Conference championships in her four years. However, her personal progress was largely hampered by injuries, including two stress fractures in her shin and one in her femur from continual squat exercises with lofty amounts of weight, a routine encouraged by the coaching staff.

Though her times didn’t change drastically from high school, collegiate running did offer Sonderman the chance for a few training vacations to far more desirable destinations than wintry Wisconsin. She traveled with the team to Tucson, Ariz., San Diego and San Francisco during her years as a Badger.

The sporty vacations are something the Sonderman family has embraced as well. They went hiking in Sedona, Ariz., over spring break. Last summer, the family trekked to the Smoky Mountains for some white-water rafting and some more hiking. In Greenwood, Sonderman enjoys biking and taking walks with friends when she can.

“I’m definitely not a couch potato kind of gal,” she said.

Track isn’t completely out of the picture, either. Sonderman’s simply found a new niche.

While Emily runs for Our Lady of Greenwood Middle School, Ann volunteers as a coach, something she’s done since 2007 when Nathan ran. She’s encouraged by seeing youngsters — the team consists of boys and girls in grades four to eight, and even a few in lower grades — participating in the sport at an earlier age then high school.

“It’s really nice to get kids interested in it that early,” she said. “It shows them how much fun track can actually be.”

The sport taught her a multitude of life lessons, Sonderman said. She learned discipline, began to understand personal responsibility and the importance of time management, especially after having classes all morning at Wisconsin before daily practices from 2 to 6 p.m.

“Running track at the collegiate level definitely shaped who I am today,” Sonderman said.

When she watches Emily run now, she reminisces about her own career.

But only for a second. Practice is over. No time to talk. Ann Sonderman’s gotta jet.

Contact Joe Jasinski at jjasinski@dcherald.com.

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