Freshman Year

Role Models – Everyday Heroes

Posted on

I’ve met some very amazing people in my life, and there are some that I want to keep a little closer to me.  These are people that helped shape who I am today, and most importantly, they’re friends!  I find the best role models aren’t celebrities or other famous figures, but rather people that I encounter daily.

In sports, there are a few people who really helped push me and shared how they love the sport of running.  Macala Fifield, my teammate from high school who I’ve mentioned before, is probably the biggest reason I decided to pursue college athletics.  I still talk to Macala whenever I’m in a slump, and just hear about how her season is doing.  Her confidence is extremely admirable in a sport that really tries to wear you down everyday.

 

aeecfe79-3daa-4045-96d6-f54ebc18b16a
Macala and I reunite.  This time, on different teams, and in college! (2016 )

 

Here at Saint Martin’s, I met two teammates that really stand out to me as role models.  Shannon Porter and Nathan Morgan.  You’ve probably heard about Shannon from her incredible accomplishments on the track.  She’s our premier distance runner, a GNAC conference champion, multiple school record holder, and an All-American.  With this resume and talent, you’d expect her to be a fairly intense person.  In reality, she’s on another level of kind and friendly, and loves to be with her team, and we love her too!  While I’m not expecting All-American honors, she is someone I look up to because of her ability to stay grounded to those closest to her, and stay positive and smiling every time I see her.

 

38f740f6-b440-43af-a98f-5daae4b2f730
Shannon rocks her smile with a motivational quote in the SMU Rec Center ( August 2015)

 

Nathan Morgan graduated last year, but I haven’t forgot the way he found a way to keep talking during the hardest workouts and push me when I really needed it.  I also was able to connect with him via our shared love of cross country skiing.  Nathan has taught me to find what you love and hold on to it.  I think Nathan is a person who really knows who he is, and the kind of person he wants to be in life, and I’m so glad to have spent a year with him at SMU.

 

411d8e39-f57f-4dda-a186-6d421e415ff5
Nathan loves the great outdoors, as shown here on the beach during cross country team camp (2015)

 

There are also some people that have helped me through my journey to find a career.  In high school, my great friend, Emily Sexton, pushed me into my first student government meeting which was a domino effect that would essentially steer the rest of my years in high school.  She encouraged me to get involved on the state level, giving me my first experiences in public relations and marketing.  Emily is still a close friend and I expect great successes from her in life.

 

1e1738b0-d403-4f81-9e33-848eea2cc5eb
Emily found herself in the area and visited SMU! (2016)

 

Finally, one last role model who I met here at Saint Martin’s.  She should sound familiar because she’s also on the social squad!  Sarah Salvatori was one of the first people I met during my freshman year.  I asked her for advice about choosing a major/minor and she met with me and answered all of the questions I had for her.  Now I’m lucky enough to work in the same office, and I continue to learn from her.  Sarah continues to show how to be professional, but express how much she enjoys her work, though her work!  We will really miss her in the office when she is gone next year.

 

img_0393
Sarah and I enjoying our tea, and a day at work in the social squad office! (2016)

 

Role models come from all corners of life, and once you find one, don’t let them go!  Be sure to let them know what they mean to you.  Who knows, you might be a role model yourself!

 

Thanks for reading,

Andrew

Advertisements

“Last” Means a New Beginning

Posted on

Eleven months and twenty-five days ago, I scrambled to throw my things in to my backpack.  Usually, I would be getting the guys together so we could go get lunch at Speedy Subs or The Chowder House, but today was different.  Today was a milestone that I would never forget, and one that would decide where my life was going after graduation.  That day I sat down at a table in our school’s library, surrounded by family, friends, coaches and staff.  Next to me was Jalon McCullough, the school’s star basketball player, and together we both fulfilled our dreams of competing in our sports at the college level by signing our National Letters of Intent.

20150420_191003386_iOS
NLI Signing at Monroe Catholic HS – April 2015

I would bet that you can remember any of those milestones from your own senior year, or just life in general.  Those moments where you thought “This is why I worked.  This is why it took all of that time. Just to get to this moment and feel that even for a few seconds, it has all come full circle.”  However, these moments do not last forever.  I thanked all those who supported me and served as role models.  I signed my NLI, hugged my parents, coaches, and friends, and it was over.  By making my decision, I finally began seeing myself leaving it all behind.  So because I had accomplished what I had set to do in the years before, I now had to give it all up?  The “lasts” of my life started becoming milestones too.

Eleven months and twenty-seven days ago, I went to my last prom.

20150419_060925420_iOS
Boys from the MCHS Class of 2015 – April 2015

Eleven months and fifteen days ago, we had our last day with our kindergarten buddies (who are now first graders!).

20150430_194120367_iOS
Halea and Emma pose for the camera! – May 2015

Eleven months and nine days ago, I had my last day as Student Body President and swore in my successor.

20150610_110402000_iOS
Haley Michelle becomes the new Student Body President – May 2015

Ten months and thirty days ago, I put on my cap and gown, received my diploma, and had my last day at Monroe Catholic High School.

20150516_211649285_iOS
Jackson Wallace, Lucas Button, and myself get ready to take the stage. – May 2015

Last. Last. Last. Last.

Seven months and thirty days ago, I had my last day in Fairbanks.  Followed by my first flight to Seattle to get to Lacey.  Seven months and twenty-nine days ago, I had my first practice with my new Saint Martin’s Saints cross country team.

20150817_222442000_iOS
New teammates! – August 2015

Seven months and twenty-four days ago, I had my first service project at the Olympia Children’s Museum with all of the first-year students for Incipio, our orientation program.

20150822_233555000_iOS
Morgan Erickson, Amanda Grengs, Jona Spiller and myself take a moment before a day of service! – August 2015

 

Six months and twenty-six days ago, I went to the Washington State Fair for the first time.

20150920_041724489_iOS
Myself, Claire Palmiter, Cameron Devine, Melissa Roth, and Tamera Ramsay after a fun day in Puyallup – September 2015

Five months and fourteen days ago, I had my first article published in the school newspaper.

20151102_173830090_iOS (1)
“Wait, you actually want snow?” in The Belltower – November 2015

First. First. First. First.

The saying “when one door closes, another door opens” comes to mind.  These doors were going to close and there was nothing I could do about it.  I had to go out and find the doors that were opening, and that meant leaving home.  If you are about to leave home in a few months, take in your lasts! You earned them!  Then know that there are many firsts around the corner… maybe even at Saint Martin’s.

“Need-to-Call-Mom” Moments

Posted on

Nine weeks.  The first twenty-seven are down, and I just have nine to go.  This is the first day back after Spring Break.  I feel right at home, but man, oh man, am I missing Fairbanks.

20151219_232703073_iOS
Skiing/ Snowboarding at Moose Mountain during Christmas Break – Fairbanks, December 2015

I had the three months of summer before I got on the plane in August, and I had a month for Christmas break.  Two-thirds of this year have been spent in Lacey now, and that will be the story for the next three years.  Here I am, putting numbers and statistics into my college experience.  Why?  To better understand what I am accomplishing here?  No.  That is not an accurate representation of what I am gaining from SMU.  I will save the numbers for my economics and calculus classes, because I think of this year by all of the friends I’ve met and memories I’ve made.

Making the Dean’s List was fantastic news to me, and it reflected all of the hard work that I had put into my classes that first semester.  When I think of this later, I will not think of every test and assignment, but rather what I felt when I went up to my door and saw my name on the certificate.  That was a “need-to-call-mom” moment if I ever had one.  “Need-to-call-mom” moments are an excellent way to think about college.

20160201_211016031_iOS
I was surprised that I had made the Dean’s list for the Fall semester! -January 2016

Mom is always my greatest supporter, and she has been with me every step of the way until this year.  It should be noted that when I say “Need-to call-mom”, that includes dad too!  I think that until this year, I didn’t realize what my family meant to me because they were always there.  Now they are far away from me, including my two little brothers.  “Need-to-call-mom” moments are important because it shows the moment was more important than a regular Facebook post, or tweet.  It would have been something that you would want to celebrate with the whole family.  Along with academic achievements, these moments included an exciting track meet, any time I would go and explore a new city, getting an on-campus job with The Belltower,

20160318_185450220_iOS.jpg
A Trip to Tracktown” published in the school newspaper. -February 2016

or completing an interesting project for a class.  Mom isn’t just there for the good times, however.  She is also there for the rough spots in life.

Recently, the leadership positions on campus were announced and I was greatly anticipating to be selected as a Norcia mentor.  Unfortunately, I was not chosen, but was offered a position to be an Orientation Leader.  I would have loved to be an OL, and hope that I can at some point, but the job requires me to stay on campus over the summer, so I had to turn down the position for now.  Initially, I was pretty upset by the news, but I had to let it go.  Nevertheless, it was a “need-to-call-mom” moment.  By talking to her, I was able to visualize the big picture and see that not only had I already had a great year, but that I had many more opportunities to come.  Just because I will not be a Norcia mentor next year, doesn’t mean I can’t be a leader in the Saint Martin’s community, and nothing is stopping me from applying for the position again next year.

It would be easy to start distancing myself from leadership programs on campus but that is not what this experience is supposed to do to me.  I can see that the Norcia program is very tough to get into, but this is strengthening me.  I will be improving my skills for another year and be ready to earn my spot next year.  Until then, I will continue to work to find my place at Saint Martin’s, and give back to the community that is giving so much to me.  Oh, and of course, update mom along the way.

Thanks for reading,

Andrew

 

 

A Trip to Tracktown

Posted on Updated on

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.

20160205_233323492_iOS.jpg
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.

20160205_234109174_iOS.jpg
“…, 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!

20160206_022130641_iOS
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!

20160206_031646994_iOS
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.

20160206_035538746_iOS
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.

20160206_065042031_iOS
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

 

A Change of Plans

Posted on Updated on

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…

20160118_221629849_iOS
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.

20160124_082111000_iOS
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.

20160121_020401457_iOS
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