Saturday Spotlight- Leanne Dombrowsky

Name: Leanne Dombrowsky
Age: 25
Hometown: Middle Island
Occupation: Graduate Student (for another 5.5 months… but who’s counting?)
Pays the Car Loan Side Job: Mac Arthur Airport’s finest gift shop employee
Bachelor’s Degree in English and Psychology (double major)
Master’s Degree in Speech-Language Pathology (in progress)
Longterm Dating: Charlie Dietrich

Hello Warriors! I am so excited to be your Warrior of the Week! I hope I do you all proud! Thank you for the opportunity, Lou!

For those of you wondering how such a tall girl didn’t wind up in basketball, you can blame my uncle. At seven, I was as tall as the nine and ten year olds. My uncle was the head of the basketball league at the time and decided I should play with them. Despite the good intentions, no one considered the major disparity of hand-eye-coordination skills between the ages and I suffered through a fairly traumatic season. Basketball quickly stopped being interesting. So, I played PAL soccer through elementary and middle school. I was pretty good at it for a while and I acquired the name “Golden Foot” for my defensive skills. I played for years but the only memory that really stands out is when I kicked a ball right into an opponent’s face and made his nose bleed. I learned I don’t do so well around blood. I played a while more but rarely performed to any memorable significance. Mark that as the official end to my ball sports experience.

I had a few proud running moments in gym class when I broke my school’s records for the mile run in 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade. I had a brief season on the PAL track team at the beginning of those years. Mom thought it was a good way to “run out” my excess energy but the season was short lived and didn’t spark my “running career.” I guess running wasn’t really a big part of my life until 7th grade. My mile times for previous years’ physical fitness tests caught the eye of the high school cross country coach and I was recruited to run on the varsity team. At the time I was asked to run, I had my junior black belt in karate and was excelling at forms, sparring, judo, and weapons. I was well known within the karate studio for my flying side kicks that sent me several feet in the air. I loved karate and everything about it but I had to give it up to make time for the demanding practice schedule for the varsity team. I was heartbroken but I wanted to run.

Unfortunately, my XC years were met with adversity that I had never experienced before and have yet to experience since. Although I was a decent runner, I was the youngest on my team and the girls were relentlessly mean. I was called every name imaginable and left out of plans whenever possible. Once, I was even denied a gift during a secret santa exchange simply because my santa refused to buy a gift for me. It may sound silly and petty now but I can’t remember many of my successes during that time because too much of it is scarred. My years of high school XC left me with lasting anxiety of being truly unlikable. This feeling resurfaces in many aspects of my life to this day.

The off seasons from XC were better. We ran winter and spring track to stay in shape. The sprinters and field athletes were great people and they offered such amazing relief from the suffocating XC clique. I trained for the 400m and high jump. I became the best high-jumper in Suffolk County. However, I never had the opportunity to go to States because I blew my left meniscus at 15 and my right meniscus at 17. After two knee surgeries and lots of PT and rehab, I decided my running career was over and I dropped sports for my senior year.

I became a rower in college. I chose to attend the University at Albany, in part, because they had a club crew team. One of the older girls from XC had gone off to college many years before me and during one of her visits home, told us all about how she joined crew. This girl was one of the only girls I looked up to during my time running and although we were not on the team together for long, I always thought about rowing because of her. Joining crew was the best thing I ever did in college.

Rowing takes strength, grace, and teamwork. I was five seat in an eight woman boat and took pride in being part of the “powerhouse pair.” Practice started at 5am and we would watch the sunrise over the Hudson everyday as we paddled up and down the river. I haven’t rowed in four years but I will always consider myself, at least to some degree, a rower.

After college I ran away to France, like every smart girl does during her quarter life crisis. I taught English to my host family and volunteered in a kindergarten classroom for a semester. My free time was spent mountain biking with family friends or taking long solo runs in the forests of Yerres. I began to love casual running again and it became my outlet after things started to go horribly south with my unstable host mom. (France is a long story for another time).

My return to America in December of 2013 coincided with my return to country line dancing, which I started modestly about a year before I finished college. I started dancing four days a week and became close friends with many people from the country community- including Jami and Craig who eventually introduced me and Charlie to the hills in March of 2015.
But before becoming a Selden Hills Warrior, I was busy completing several sprint triathlons and trying to keep up with Carl Hart’s cycling team. I really enjoy cycling but let’s face it, running is more comfortable than sitting on that bike seat!!

By now it should appear obvious that I spent my entire life being involved in sports. But what you may not know is that I also dappled in the extreme sport of online dating. I was committed to the task and I went hard. But when you dedicate yourself to something long enough, you eventually get what you want. In my case I found the absolute love of my life. He swept me off my feet and, in return, I convinced him to start running! We ran our first race at Heckschere State Park in January 2015 and we were warriors soon after. Over the last two years I’ve watched him become a runner and far surpass me on the race course (so proud of him!). And when we’re not running or doing my homework, we’re off hiking mountains or outdoor adventuring. We love to move.
In recent years, everything in my life just seemed to fall perfectly into place. I don’t know how I got so lucky. I’m really looking forward to sharing more with you all throughout the week. Thank you so much for reading.

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