Michelle Dobbs knew she was taking a risk.
Putting aside track and field for basketball this past winter wasn’t an easy decision for Dobbs, a former multi-sport standout at Rochelle Township High School who is now a senior at The University of Chicago. She said she felt like a piece of herself was missing, but that it was a choice she needed to make to try and achieve one more goal before ending her athletic career with the Maroons.
“I was leaving behind a sport I’m better at, but I was still really encouraged by my family to play basketball and to try and get in one last year of a sport I really love,” Dobbs said. “It didn’t matter that I wouldn’t get all the awards that I would’ve gotten in track. It was more about having fun doing it and I think those values are something my parents [John and Kay Dobbs] have instilled in me forever.”
Dobbs played in 10 games for the Maroons this season, shooting 52 percent from the field and making the University Athletic Association’s All-Academic Team. She returned for the her final outdoor track and field season this spring, and with her graduation just weeks away, Dobbs received one last honor from UC’s Women’s Athletic Association: The Gertrude Dudley Medal.
“It was a huge honor to receive the award,” said Dobbs, who is graduating next month with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and moving to Denver soon after to begin a career in software engineering at Amazon. “I know a lot of people who’ve earned the award in the past and I really look up to them.”
Dobbs received the award from university athletic director Erin McDermott at the Women’s Athletic Association’s celebratory banquet on Tuesday, May 9. The award is presented annually to a senior athlete for her leadership and skill in women’s athletics.
Dobbs participated in three sports throughout her time at UC including cross country, basketball and track. Her most notable achievements have come in the realm of track and field, where her resume includes an NCAA Indoor Championship in the 800-meter run as well as school records in both the indoor 800-meter run (2:11.34) and the outdoor 800-meter run (2:09:73), the outdoor 400-meter dash (56.93 seconds), the indoor 1600-meter relay (3:53.97) and both the outdoor 1600-meter relay (3:48.60) and the 3200-meter relay (9:07.53).
But Dobbs’ excellence spanned across multiple sports, as she was a three-time member of the UAA All-Academic Team for cross country with a top finish of 10th at the St. Francis Invitational. A former 800-meter state champion in track and a two-time All-State Honorable Mention in basketball as a Lady Hub, Dobbs relishes playing several sports for the unique challenges each sport brings.
“The way the sports are played is so different and that’s why I think I enjoy being a multi-sport athlete so much,” Dobbs said. “I got more of the individual things from track and cross country along with the team things, but with basketball I got to experience being a part of that type of team and that was really valuable to me… My parents always pushed me to push myself in sports and to do things not because I wanted to be good at them, but because I loved them.”
The news of Dobbs winning the Gertrude Dudley Medal came within days of the IHSA Class 2A Girls Track & Field Sectional at Genoa-Kingston High School, where the Lady Hubs qualified three relay teams for the state meet in Charleston. With plenty of state championship experience as an 800-meter runner, a 1600-meter runner and a 3200-meter relay runner, Dobbs is hoping the Rochelle girls can continue the program’s tradition of success.
“Something for those girls to keep in mind is how special it is to be a part of a relay team,” she said. “It was such a special thing to be able to compete at that level, not just for yourself but for your teammates. I’m sure they’re all realizing this already and they seem like a great group of girls who are already running for each other.”