By Jeff White (

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Vicky Fouhy was back home in England when she got the news last month from Todd Morgan, who coaches women’s cross country and track at the University of Virginia.

The NCAA, Morgan informed her on Facebook, had approved the waiver submitted by UVa requesting another year of eligibility for Fouhy.

“That’s a game-changer for all our programs,” Morgan said, referring to cross country, indoor track and outdoor track. “She’s a great kid. Great story.”

Fouhy, who was born in Wellington, New Zealand, moved to England when she was a baby. (Her family lives in Little Chalfont, outside of London). She graduated from the University of Birmingham in 2012 with a bachelor’s of natural sciences, then came to the United States, where she earned a master’s in curriculum and instruction from UVa’s Curry School of Education in May.

She knew it was possible she might be allowed to compete again for the Cavaliers in 2013-14, but nothing was certain. Had the NCAA not granted her another year of eligibility, Fouhy said last week, she would have stayed in England and “tried to figure out what I was going to do with my life, find a job and that kind of stuff.”

She’s delighted not to have to worry about that now, though Fouhy called it “a mad scramble” to get everything in order for the coming academic year at UVa. She’s enrolled in another master’s program in the Curry School, this one in higher education administration, with a specialization in sports management.

“I’m so excited that I’ve got one more year,” Fouhy said.

“It’s a huge bonus,” Morgan said. “I thought she was done.”

Morgan came to UVa from the University of Florida in January 2012. Fouhy knew that other runners from England had competed for universities in America, and she was interested in doing the same. Fouhy had heard other runners speak highly of Morgan and his coaching. Moreover, her brother, Tom, was headed to JMU to play soccer.

“He was like, `Vicky, UVa’s really good. You should go there,’ ” Fouhy recalled.

Morgan wanted her at Virginia, too, and so Fouhy crossed the ocean and moved to Charlottesville last summer. She did not distinguish herself in her first season of cross country at UVa, but she placed second in the mile at the ACC indoor championships and then 12th in the mile at the NCAA indoor meet, a performance that earned her second-team All-America honors.

During the outdoor season, Fouhy ran the 1,500 meters in 4:14.96 at the Virginia Challenge — the second-fastest time in the history of UVa women’s track — and was runner-up in the 1,500 at the ACC championships.

“She wasn’t much last fall — she’d never run cross country — but she really evolved as a runner over the year,” Morgan said. “She had a great summer, too, after she left here.”

Fouhy has athletic bloodlines. Her father, Dan, is a native of New Zealand who was one of that country’s top rugby players. Her mother, Nicky, who is English, played netball and basketball at university.

“I’d say we’re a very sporty family,” Fouhy said. “Not necessarily running. Just sporty generally.”

Growing up, Fouhy was one of England’s top young netball players, but she grew bored with that sport, she said, and so switched to basketball at the University of Birmingham. Don’t expect, however, to catch Fouhy playing pickup ball with Joanne Boyle’s crew at John Paul Jones Arena.

“Oh, no way! Absolutely no way!” she said, aghast at the thought. “I’m not good at basketball at all. I just played for a laugh.”

She also ran at Birmingham, but in one of those years she was training for an international competition, and the NCAA, after reviewing UVa’s request for a waiver, did not count that as one of Fouhy’s four years of college eligibility.

Morgan wasn’t sure what to expect from Fouhy in her first year at Virginia. In England, he said, “she had run some good times and shown a lot of potential but never fully invested in running. And so when she got here it was mainly just an adjustment period, and it showed when she got on the track.”

Fouhy said: “It’s way more serious out here, so my lifestyle has just got a lot more serious out here, and I’m willing to commit 100 percent to being a better runner, basically, which is a big thing.”

Morgan said Fouhy is “learning how to make better decisions racing. Last year that kind of burned her a couple times. She needs to learn how to improve her decision-making in championship meets, and she knows that. When to go, when not to panic. When to stay calm. She’s gotten a lot better at it.”

It helps that Fouhy can learn from Charlotte Browning, her roommate. Browning, who’s from West Sussex, England, won two NCAA titles at Florida during Morgan’s tenure there, and she’s now living and training in Charlottesville.

Fouhy’s best event is probably the 1,500 meters, but “we’re going to try her at a few different things [in 2013-14], too,” Morgan said, “because she showed that she’s got a little more endurance on the track than I thought.”

In the 3,000 meters, Morgan said, Fouhy has run 9:18, and that “shows me that she’ll run a lot better at cross country, because if you can run under 9:20 for 3k on a track, you can run good cross country.”

In women’s cross country, the race is 6,000 meters. It’s a grueling event, and Fouhy does not have fond memories of her first season at UVa.

“Last year was pretty hard for me,” she said. “I was pretty awful at that last year. That’s the only way to say how bad I was. But this year it’s going to be better, because I’m much better than I was when I came this time last year.”

In 2012, the Virginia women placed sixth at the ACC cross country championships. Ten of the team’s 18 members this season are freshmen. Junior Chelsea Ley, who missed last season with an injury, and senior Barbara Strehler are among the veteran runners from whom Morgan expects much this fall.

He’s optimistic about the team’s prospects, too, but also realistic. The Cavaliers open the season Aug. 30 with the UVa Duals at their home course, Panoroma Farms in Earlysville.

“This is such a young group,” Morgan said. “Some of these girls have never even run any of these things, so to heap expectations on them, I think, would be a mistake. I feel like goal No. 1 is, we just want to be better than we were last year, and I just want them to show up every day and work hard. And I think if they do that, this is a talented group.”

At the ACC meet, the top five finishers from each school score team points. Fouhy was not in that group last year in Blacksburg. Can she break through in her final college season?

“I don’t know,” Fouhy said. “We’ve got a lot of good girls. I just want to do my best, and if that means I’m in the top five, great, but there’s a lot of good new girls, and a lot of people coming back.”

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