Track pushes me every single day. No other sport requires you to be willing to accept so much pain. Some days I wake up excited to run the hill and ready to compete and other days it feels like a chore. This sport requires such an intense level of mental and physical toughness. Many argue that it’s an individual sport, but I would argue that it is just the opposite. Track would not be possible without support of teammates, friends, captains, coaches, family. Every athlete on the team, male and female, fulfills those roles.

When I get to practice on the days it feels like a chore, I’m instantly reminded how lucky I am to participate and contribute to a culture that carries energy, passion, commitment, inclusion, and encouragement with such ease. These things come naturally to all of my male teammates, they are the ones who constantly cheer for us, they are the ones who push us to be better, they are the ones who support us and more than that, they are our friends. These things come pretty naturally to the females too, but the men are a crucial part of that.

Both teams have built a culture together, even when they weren’t merged. We were just beginning to see the power that we carry unified. The women placed second at the Big Ten Indoor meet and the men placed third. No other team placed top 3 for both men and women’s. We are stronger together.