Faith, athletics collide for Soroco star | SteamboatToday.com

Faith, athletics collide for Soroco star

— Qualifying for the Colorado state track meet in five individual events was hard.

Choosing not to compete at the state meet was even harder, and Soroco High School sophomore Chloe Veilleux said it took several days to truly accept that fate.

Veilleux qualified in five events but was to compete in four events at state, the maximum allowed. A freak spring snow storm forced the postponement of the three-day meet's first two days, and organizers quickly rescheduled three days of events into two — Saturday, the day the meet was originally supposed to conclude, and Sunday, a day not on the original schedule.

The Veilleux family — represented by three athletes at the state meet — does a lot of things on Sunday.

They load into a van and go to church. They devour a family dinner. They soak up movies and tell stories.

They don't, however, run.

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That meant after medaling twice on Saturday at the state meet, placing third in the 3,200-meter run and eighth in the 300 hurdles, Chloe Veilleux scratched from two more events where she was a huge favorite to earn a medal and perhaps even win, the 1,600 and the 800, both of which were scheduled for Sunday.

"We just don't run on the Sabbath," Veilleux said. "We believe God wants it to be a holy day, so we don't want to do things we do on a normal day."

The family attends a Baptist church in Yampa, and the Sunday stance doesn't come from the pulpit. It's a family decision.

"I guess you could just say we believe what the Bible says," said Charlee Veilleux, Chloe's older sister and a junior at Soroco.

She competed in two events Saturday, racing a leg with the school's 800-meter relay team, which finished 12th, then placing 16th in the 300 hurdles.

Older brother Brandon Veilleux, a senior, competed in high jump, placing eighth.

Chloe was the only one of the family to have any events scheduled for Sunday.

The track meet's postponement and rescheduling ruined many plans, including graduation for some seniors.

Colorado State High School Activities Association held a short ceremony midday Sunday for those seniors, complete with a cap toss from the state award's podium.

There was no nod to those missing the day for religious reasons, but the Veilleuxes weren't asking for one.

Chloe wasn't mad. She didn't feel cheated. She just wasn't going to run.

"We think God has a plan," Charlee said. "We just trust that."

"That's why I have peace about it," Chloe added. "I could be really upset. I had the chance to do really well, but it's not going to work out this year. We're hoping next year the weather will be better."

It's easy to speculate what Chloe's stance cost her on the track, though hard to be sure. She won the 2A state cross country championship in the fall, then this spring, finished the regular season with the third-best 1,600-meter time in Class 2A and the fourth-best 800 time.

At state on Saturday, Chloe outperformed her previous-best 3,200 time by 12 seconds, but other racers in the 1,600 and 800 knocked significant chunks off their own times, and the winners and top-placers in those events surely would have been up for a challenge.

If she performed to her seeds, Chloe would have doubled her state track medal count to four and scored the team 13 points.

Chloe said she thought about all of that, but she didn't seriously consider running. 
She's never participated in other activities on Sundays and survived. Those rarely seem as important as the state track meet does in the eyes of an athlete, of course, but, to her, the same logic applies.

It's a family rule, but she decided.

"Whether my parents said so or not, I still wouldn't run," she said. "It took a little while to get over, but in the grand scheme of things, it's just a track meet."

The Veilleux sisters weren't familiar with Sandy Koufax, the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher who famously opted not to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur and playing would have conflicted with his Jewish beliefs.

They were, however, quick to point to Chariots of Fire, the 1981 movie about British runner Eric Liddell, who scratched from the 100-meter dash at the 1924 Olympics because one of the heats he'd have to run fell on a Sunday. 
He ran the mid-week 400 instead and won a gold medal.

The Veilleux sisters talked about it Saturday afternoon as the state meet swirled around them. They stood in the middle of it, content with the results they had and not sweating those they wouldn't get a chance to earn.

They'd head home that evening and spend Sunday as they always do, going to church, praying together, enjoying a family dinner and maybe a movie.

"Chariots of Fire," Charlee said, seizing upon an idea. "Maybe that'd be a good movie to watch this Sunday."

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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