There is a lot less ramen than I expected…there’s still ramen, just a lot less.
My idea of what I thought college changed a lot based on what I saw and heard as I grew up. I would say my first impressions of college would be the first time I saw Disney’s The Extremely Goofy Movie. I figured I’d be heading out with my best friends, driving away from home, getting involved in a sport, and maybe even a fraternity. In the movie, Goofy ends up following his son Max to college, and I hadn’t even ruled that out at the time. I love mom and dad, but that is not an option anymore. Please visit anytime, however!
Later I had learned from movies and tv to expect lots of parties in college, and crazy friends. That was also inaccurate. Those opportunities exist, but good friends keep you out of those scenarios, and rather, watch Netflix and make food until the late hours of the night. A classy alternative. Coming from a place with no professional sports teams and limited concert options, going to college in the Seattle was a huge eye opener for me. Fellow social squad member, Lauren Diuco and I, are counting down the days till we can watch games at SafeCo Field again or see the recently crowned Sounders take over CenturyLink Field as the MLS Cup Champions. I really didn’t consider these options until I arrived at Saint Martin’s.
Until my teammate in high school signed to run track in college, I hadn’t seen collegiate athletics to be in my future, but I planned to make it a reality, and I did! Another reality that came true in college stems from another Disney movie, Toy Story 3. Mom took that one hard watching Andy go to college, and I always thought it was kind of ridiculous until it actually happened to me. It is crazy hard to say goodbye to your parents, especially when you live far enough away that you’ll only see them a few times a year. You learn how to stay close, and they love updates and pictures, so make sure you do that.
Reality definitely breaks expectations and that is such a great thing. Lessons continue to be taken out of the classrooms, and you learn so much more than what you have on your class schedule. You learn which stereotypes you can break about college students, and create your own experience here at Saint Martin’s. However, I’d be surprised if you don’t accompany a late night of homework with ramen at some point in your four years…
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.
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.
Eleven months and fifteen days ago, we had our last day with our kindergarten buddies (who are now first graders!).
Eleven months and nine days ago, I had my last day as Student Body President and swore in my successor.
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.
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.
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.
Six months and twenty-six days ago, I went to the Washington State Fair for the first time.
Five months and fourteen days ago, I had my first article published in the school newspaper.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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,