Month: February 2016

A Trip to Tracktown

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My status on the track team as a freshman sometimes makes me wonder if I will be competing week-to-week.  Sometimes the meet is so exclusive that only three or four athletes will be able to attend.  That is what I had imagined happening on Friday, February 5th, when it came to the High Performance Meet in Portland, Oregon.  I knew a few things about the meet that made me think I wouldn’t be going.  The first was the meet was on a brand new, 200 meter, banked track that they will be using for both the National and World Indoor Championships in Portland later in March.  The second was that there would be Olympian Track Athletes there, and competing.  The last thing, was just in the name: High Performance Meet.  I perform at a high level, but I am no Olympian.  Needless to say, I was thrilled when coach sent me the message that I would be competing that Friday!

We were able to finish the whole day of classes because the meet did not start until 5:30.  However, since the meet was so late it meant that I would be running at 10:30PM!  We left the school at 1:30 and bused down to Portland in two hours.

When the World Indoor Championships take place this March, they will be in the Oregon Convention Center. For now, the track is being kept in a Portland warehouse and is for now known as the Nike House of Track.  Pulling up to the building didn’t really have an exciting feeling about it.  They weren’t kidding when they said that it was just a warehouse.  Nothing flashy about it and I began to have my doubts.   Then we went through the front door.

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House Of Track – Portland, OR (February 2016)

I wasn’t sure what I had just walked into but it was like a living advertisement for Nike, and being the branding/ marketing nerd that I am – I loved it.  The building was dimly lit aside from the track, where the green tread seemed to glow as bright as the looks on our faces.  We claimed a spot in the bleachers and coach gave us our race bibs, where for the first time for many of us, numbers were replaced by our names – just like they are for Olympic athletes.

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“…, numbers were replaced by our names,…”

We got on the track for a few warmup laps and it was crazy thinking that every famous track athlete would be running on this same track, and some would be on it tonight!  After my warm up, I only had to wait for 6 hours before I got to run, so I cheered on my teammates and then I saw my first Olympian arrive.

Fellow social squad member, and sharer of the same first name, Andrew Kier was also at the meet and walked over to me and said something like, “I just held the door for Allyson Felix, and she said thank you, and I’m freaking out!”  Something along those lines.  Allyson Felix has four gold medals at the Olympic Games, and another nine at the World Championships.  Three of us collectively gained the courage to talk to her, and we surprised by how approachable and kind she was to us!

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Lisa Peterson and David Durden with Olympian, Allyson Felix

I was also able to meet a runner, Trevor Dunbar, from Kodiak, Alaska who had just graduated from the University of Oregon and is now running professionally for Nike. It was inspiring being able to meet someone from Alaska who is on his way to making it big in the track world!

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Myself with fellow Alaskan, Trevor Dunbar.

Finally, I met one of my favorite track athletes, Andrew Wheating, another Olympian.  Again, he was extremely approachable and I was able to have a really fun conversation with him!  He was running the individual 800 about an hour later, and I was running the 800 in my relay later that night as well, so I asked him for a bit of advice to think about when my turn came up.

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Andrew and Andrew (Wheating)!

 

The meet was extremely well attended, and they set a capacity limit of 1600 people.  Many of the athletes, including us Saints, had to move to the floor with our gear to make room for the other spectators in the bleachers.  Still, many didn’t have a seat and stood along the outside of the track to watch.

I could tell that these spectators truly loved the sport of track and field, and their energy and excitement spread throughout the rest of the crowd and into the competitors.  This energy is what topped the list of things that made this meet special.  Along with the brand new track, the Nike influence, the higher performance competition, and of course the Olympians and other professional atheletes, I felt a bond with everyone in attendance through the energy in the building.

Oh, and we had a really successful meet on the track!  Full results are on the Track and Field website.  To close out the meet, my distance medley relay (DMR) team placed first with a team of all freshmen and one sophomore!  It was a nice confidence boost for all of us to come away from that meet with a group victory.  The four of us took in that moment before we boarded our vans to head back to SMU.

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Levi Shilter, Myself, Joe Edgecomb, and Austin Miller celebrate our win!

It was a different meet, and unlike any that I had been to before for sure.  I’m thrilled that I met my first Olympians and I sure hope that I haven’t met my last!  I think that it gave the team some positive energy before heading into the GNAC Championships, February 19-20, in Nampa, Idaho.

 

Thanks for reading,

 

Andrew

 

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A Change of Plans

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At Monroe Catholic High School in Fairbanks, Alaska, I was extremely involved.  It was a small school so there not as many people as some of the bigger Fairbanks schools, but we had no shortage of opportunities.  I wanted to be a part of everything.  Sports, student government, service clubs, National Honor Society – I loved being busy!  When I graduated, I planned to go to SMU and coast through my first year.  I would be living in a new state, I would have a new track team, and I would have to make new friends and have new responsibilities.  I did not know what to expect so I did not want to get involved until I felt like I had a strong grip on my new environment.   This year has not gone at all as I had planned it…

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Picture day for the SMU Track and Field Team – January 2016

My first semester had a very redundant theme: home.  Seventeen-hundred miles away from home I was learning how to be comfortable with living somewhere new.  I’m not one to be nervous about new experiences, but there sure was a lot I was thinking about, even if I really was just excited to be here.  I had to figure out the campus, the meal system, time management, new friends, keeping in touch with old friends, community events, homework, cross country practices (including 6AM workouts), and lots of other little things.  One of the strengths that I do have is the ability to stay calm in stressful situations, until I am able to work out whatever it is that I need to do.  How did I get over these stresses?  I stayed positive and took every challenge as an adventure, and through that, I discovered that every other first-year was going through the same struggles.  We were able to get through everything (or at least the first semester) with a little help from our new friends.

The first floor of the Spangler residence hall is home to the Norcia community.  I so strongly believe in this embodiment of one of our Benedictine values of community, that I am currently in the process of becoming a Norcia mentor for next year.  This is just another way I am trying to give back to Saint Martin’s, and another way that this year had surprised me.

One of my teammates, who happened to be the editor of our school newspaper, The Belltower, mentioned writing for the paper.  I declined, trying to stick to my plan of simplicity I had set for myself, but it was so easy to imagine me writing for the paper.  I had always loved writing, and so I finally gave in and submitted my first article about my transition from Alaska to Washington.  It was around this time that I had also heard about Social Squad.

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Andrew and Andrew at the WSU Open in Pullman, WA – January 2016

I had a history class with Christine Towey, and I asked her about the Social Squad and the Marketing department.  It had piqued my interest because it sounded like the direction I wanted to go with my studies and a potential career.  I had an interview just before Christmas break and was notified that I had the job just before the second semester started!  So here I am, in February 2016, and I am not where I had planned to be in my first year of college…and that’s a great thing.  I had planned not to get involved outside of school and sports and here I am with two jobs and planning to take on a leadership role next semester.  At a university that stresses giving back to the community and provides me with so much, it’s difficult to not find a way to give back.  This makes me think about what other goals I have for the future, and what else I want to do with the seven semesters that I have left.

I want to become a Norcia mentor and provide to future first years what I was given this year.  There is a lot of strength and confidence in experience and there is a lot you can learn from those who have been where you are now.  I want to work more with The Belltower to have it distributed to more Lacey and Olympia businesses, and also have more businesses have their ads in the paper to give a better feeling of community in our paper in connection with SMU.  I want to be an orientation leader my junior year, giving myself another outlet to let new students feel welcomed into the next big adventure of their lives.  Ultimately, I want to be a role model, and someone people can look up to.  When I think of role models, I don’t think of celebrities or superheros.  I think about when I was growing up, and the people who helped me become who I am today.  These are my friends, my family, my teammates, my teachers, and my co-workers.  These people are the ones who I saw overcome daily struggles, and stayed strong when they were feeling weak, and simply stayed positive and smiled when everyone else seemed to have a frown.  That is the kind of person I want to be seen as in my life.

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Mariners Caravan event at SMU with fellow Social Squad Member, Lauren Diuco – January 2016

While sometimes it may feel impossible to roll out of bed, or to finish that hard workout, or finish that article for work, it is important to remember that no matter what, you are going to make it to the end of the day.  Think about where you are now, and where you want to be in the future and know that the future is coming, ready or not.  Find out what you need to do so that when the next day comes, you have done something to have a result that is a reflection of that work you have done.  It is in this way, that we can live one day at a time, and still have the future in mind.  It is in this way that we can improve ourselves, and learn to live for others.  It is in this way, that we can step back from our lives, and see the lives of everyone around us to give back what has been given to us.

Thank you for reading,

-Andrew