Student-Athlete of the Week: Haftu Strinzos, Cross Country

When the University’s campus shut down in March, all sports were cancelled, and everyone was sent home. This included international student-athletes, who had to work with the time change to make sure they were still succeeding in the classroom. Haftu Strintzos, a junior on the cross country and track teams, was one of them.

Strintzos is from Australia and was adopted from Ethiopia by his parents. He has been very successful on and off the track since coming to Villanova. He won all-Big East in 2019 in cross country and won all-Big East in the 2020 indoor track season. When he was sent home in March, he continued to excel in the classroom and was named to the Big East All-Academic Team, as well as the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll. 

Strintzos is an electrical engineering major and chose Villanova because of its success both on the track and in the classroom. 

Since the new school year started, Strintzos has remained in Australia. His town was greatly affected by COVID-19 and went into a strict lockdown that only allowed him one hour a day to get out of the house. In this hour, Strintzos would choose to run. Strintzos said that for distance runners, this “wasn’t long enough,” and that they usually run “10 miles for training.” 

“Health and safety come first,” Strinzos said.  “I just have to do as much as I can in that time.” 

Strintzos has been able to stay in contact with his teammates despite time differences. 

“I have a lot of friends on the team that are also international,” Strinzos said. “They have been able to keep me updated on how the situation is and how the season is looking in the spring.” 

Quarantine life has been difficult to adjust to, especially with the strict guidelines that Strinzos has had to abide by. 

“The pandemic has affected our everyday lives,” Strinzos said. “My grandpa used to go and play cards with his friends all the time, and now he can’t do that. It is all about adjusting to the current situation.” 

In terms of academics, Strintzos said that it was challenging to set up a schedule to make sure his classes were all online and to make sure that it was feasible. With the 15 hour time difference from Villanova to Australia, most of his classes could have fallen late at night. 

“I don’t know if my coaches really want to know this, but I have a class from 11 to midnight,” Strintzos said. 

He said he originally had classes at around two in the morning, but he ended up dropping both of them. Strintzos said that he has been able to focus well on academics while making sure he is staying safe back at home following all the guidelines. 

“I am grateful for everything Villanova has given me,” Strintzos said. “They gave me a scholarship to come play. I want to show them that they made the right choice in awarding me that scholarship. I have found a home at ’Nova, and I want to make them proud.” 

Strinzos has been able to do just that by excelling on the course or track and also in the classroom.