From Finland to America


Photo courtesy of the Hautala family

Janna Hautala and her family training together.

Janna Hautala, junior public relations major, is an international student who comes from Vierumäki, or the Sports Institute of Finland, Finland. Janna runs the 800, which is her favorite, the 1500 and occasionally the steeplechase on the track team.

“The 800 is so cool– it’s like one lap and then another one and you just have to keep going the same pace or a little faster,” said Hautala.

Hautala’s love of running comes from her family.

“I think because all four of us run, I see them going to practice and I’m like ‘yeah this is what we do’,” said Hautala

Hautala’s dad, Ville, has coached her and her three brothers over the years.

“My dad and mom put us in small competitions… when we were young because we liked to run like we were so active… I’ve been running some little races since I was very young already and I just started to like that… I’ve done it like since elementary school and middle school, high school,” said Hautala.

Hautala and her brothers started a running club with other runners from the area and they run together.

“It was nice to practice with other people because we don’t have sport teams, we just have clubs so it’s lonelier to practice,” said Hautala.

Missouri Southern helped to provide Hautala with people that she can compete with and who help cheer her on.

“That’s one of the reasons I came, like having a team and go to meets with them because it’s so cool, the whole team cheers for you when you run so it’s nice,” said Hautala.

Though Hautala has been running since she was young, she still sets goals for herself and takes part in the team goal.

“Well, here it would be very cool to get to nationals, that’s like what everyone wants to do. I just hope I can get my speed, get better times in the 800. I really want that, but it doesn’t always happen like that, so I keep working with that,” said Hautala. “Every year I always want to PR.”

The transition from Finland to America was not an easy one for Hautala. There were many different tests and papers for her to send in. The process took about a year for Hautala to complete.

Food is one of the biggest differences for Hautala.

“At home we just cook everything, and we also eat … raw vegetables on the plate before we eat the food,” said Hautala.

Other than the food adjustment, Hautala also had to adjust to the English language.

“Language was hard at first because at school when we learned English …  we do not talk in class, we just write. It took me awhile to understand what everyone was saying…,” said Hautala.

Over the summer she goes home to visit her family and continues to run. When Hautala is in Finland, she works out with her mom.

“I always run with my mom… she likes that because now she is with my two brothers there so she bikes with them but with me she can run. She’s my pacer…”

Hautala is not able to visit home often, only being able to go home during the summer months in the two years she has been here. For Christmas, she traveled to Florida where her family also visited, but this year she spent the time with her boyfriend and his family.

“It’s so weird that I’m going to see them in one year. I didn’t think about that when I left. I call them every other day.”

Due to time differences, if Hautala wanted to talk to her family she had to call before three a.m.

“My dad may be awake, but my mom always goes to sleep at 11 so that’s 3 o’clock here, so if I call her she’s always passed out sleeping because she wakes up at 6, since she’s a teacher,” said Hautala.

The team practices Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at six in the morning and they practice in the afternoon every day. During the weekends, Hautala is either competing or having morning runs.

“The season starts from January indoors and outdoor after that until May, so it’s the whole spring,” said Hautala.

Hautala has tried other endeavors such as ice skating and playing the violin, but she prefers running. If she could try another sport, she would like to try cross-country skiing. “…that’s what my mom used to do. … you just have to have snow,” said Hautala.

Hautala has no plans to stop running after she is done competing at Missouri Southern. She still wants to try and compete in Finland for her age group as she gets older.

“I’ve been in conference final in 800 meters, but at home in the Finnish championships … last year I was third,” said Hautala