For a while, life seemed to be one big party for Cal State Fullerton cross-country runner Erin Remy.
"I guess it took me awhile to grow up," she said. "I tried Mira Costa College after I graduated from high school, but I didn't stay there even a full semester. I guess I just wasn't that interested in school at that point."
That slow start makes Remy older than most college students, a junior at 29. But she says her life didn't come into focus until about three years ago.
At that point, she decided things had to change.
First, she made up her mind to give college another chance, this time at Orange Coast in Costa Mesa. She also gave up her pack of cigarettes a day and started jogging to get in better shape. Her party lifestyle became a thing of the past.
And her life took a new turn later as a competitive runner.
"A friend of mine told me that I had really good natural running form and encouraged me to try some races," Remy said.
Remy won the first race she entered, a weekend 5K in her hometown of South Pasadena. "After that, I went to the coach at Orange Coast and said I'd like to try out for the team," Remy said. "And I did really well, right from the start."
And all the while, her life was going through more changes.
Her commitment to academics grew stronger. "Those first few classes I took in child development really sparked something in me," she said.
She also became a mother.
"I became pregnant that first semester I ran at Orange Coast," she said. "I finished the first cross-country season about three months along, and I continued running that spring until I was eight months pregnant."
She thought for a few seconds and said with a laugh: "People thought I was going to be running to the hospital to have the baby."
She also became a Christian before the baby was born. "It wasn't just something that happened all of a sudden," she said. "It just seemed to grow."
Her daughter Eden, who is 15 months old, is named after the Biblical Garden of Eden. She and her boyfriend of more than four years separated not long after Eden was born. "By then, our lives were going in two different directions," she said.
Remy took the summer off to care for her daughter, but was back running cross-country in the fall semester.
Remy enrolled at Fullerton this fall and quickly became the leading runner on the women's cross-country team. She also is planning to compete in several distance events in track this spring.
Coach John Elders is optimistic that Remy will be a contender for the Big West individual championship this year, certainly be one of the top five runners.
"Absolutely," said Elders. "Based on the UC Irvine Invitational, she would be fourth. But I think she'll continue to get stronger. At this point, she just needs the confidence. Confidence to go out and run with the top runners early. She consistently finishes strong, but she needs to start a little stronger."
Elders said Remy's maturity and work ethic have been a positive influence on the other runners.
Remy didn't regard herself as being athletic until she started running regularly. Until then, she was an equestrian.
"I always loved horses from the time I was little, but I sort of grew away from that," she said. "I also trained some horses for a while, but that was nothing serious. It was fun, but it's wasn't something I wanted to keep doing."
As a single parent and student-athlete, Remy is almost always on the run these days, one way or another. It's far different from a few years ago. And she's confident she's on the right track now.
"I feel really good about my life, compared to the way it was," she said. "I also have a strong feeling of accomplishment. It's from three things: running, from college and from being a mother. I feel a little overwhelmed at times from all the things I'm doing, but it's worked out well, and I really love being a mother."
She takes advantage of the child care that is offered on campus while she's in class and at practice, and the partial scholarship helps financially.
"My parents also have been very supportive," she said. "They weren't sure where I was going with my life for a while."
Remy said she wants to go into some form of counseling when she finishes college.
"I'd like to help people who have gone astray," she said. "I think I've been through the school of hard knocks, and know what it's all about."
To no one's surprise, baseball star Mark Kotsay is one of the nine finalists for the Golden Spikes Award as amateur baseball player of the year. Kotsay's leading challengers include Darin Erstad, the Angels' first-round draft choice who played last season for Nebraska, along with Jose Cruz Jr. of Rice and Todd Helton of Tennessee. The award will be announced Nov. 14 in New York. . . . Baseball Coach Augie Garrido is walking without crutches or a cane these days, about five months after his Achilles' tendon was severed last spring in a pregame warm-up. The team began two weeks of fall practice Monday.