By Dan Ninham
Molly Saboo, 18, is a member of the Bay Mills Indian Community located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She is a graduating senior this school year at Onamia Public Schools in Minnesota. She competed for the Mille Lacs Raiders cross country team, a co-op between Onamia and Isle schools.
Saboo is continuing on her journey to be a fast and smart runner on the cross country course. Although the fall season is over, she is continuing to train with plans to continue to run at the college level. She has the credentials to continue her climb to higher goals.
“I was a state participant this past cross country season,” said Saboo. “I have lettered in cross country and track six times each. I was an All-Conference runner in cross country five times and All-Conference honorable mention once. I was an All-Conference honorable mention runner in the 800m and 1600m on the track. I placed fifth in the 800m and sixth in the 1600m run at sections.”
She holds the record for every 5k course at her school. Her personal bests are: 5k – 20:05, 1600m – 5:34, and 800m – 2:29.
“Love, respect, and courage are some of the most prominent indigenous core values that made me the runner I am today,” said Saboo. “Love is my love for running. Ever since I could talk I always told my mom I was going to be a runner.”
“Respect is for all the other fellow runners that I race with every day, but also respect for myself. I have to respect myself enough to be able to go out onto every course and believe that I am meant to be there and I am going to run the best race I can that day.”
“Courage is running through the pain and keep pushing forward no matter what. Courage was to keep going out for cross country even when I had no team. It also is having big dreams about going to state and running in college, and then achieving them.”
“I run for myself but I also run for my people, those who can’t run, my friends and family members that were taken too soon, and for all the Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and girls across North America,” added Saboo.
“My mother, Nancy Saboo, is my main mentor and supporter,” said Saboo. “She pushes me to be the best I can be, shows up to every single one of my meets, and most importantly she believes that I can do anything I set my mind to.”
“Being Molly’s mom I have the honor of watching her grow into the young woman she is today,” said Nancy Saboo. “It was from an early age that Namaadibaawin Makwa Ikwe, translated to ‘the way of the sitting bear,’ shared with her dad and me she wanted to be a runner and it all officially began at Nayahshing School.”
According to her mom, Molly chose to use the time during the pandemic to focus on her academics as well as her running. In the months spent at home, she researched nutrition and training strategies to improve her skill. She used this time to run, train and study. She wrote her goals and inspirational quotes on the walls of her bedroom and read them each day. She continued to run on the treadmill, around Onamia, and on the school track when it wasn’t covered in snow.
“It has been my honor to witness her life and see her reach and surpass the goals she set for herself,” said Nancy.
“My cross country coach, Jeff Walz, is my other mentor,” said Saboo. “He taught me a lot of what I know now about running and running strategies. He gave me all the help I can ask for and he too believes in me very much.”
“I knew Molly was a special young lady when she came to Onamia HS in junior high,” said Jeff Walz, head varsity cross country coach for the Mille Lacs Raiders. “She played basketball, and ran track and cross country for me. In all three sports she competed with a fire in her belly.”
“Molly loved the competition and being part of a team. As Molly grew older she started to train harder and incorporate nutrition and hydration into her routine, and it was at that time I knew Molly would be a special athlete.”
“In my opinion, Molly has just scratched the surface of her greatness,” added Coach Walz.