I'm a small-town kid and as I have opportunities ahead of me, I turned down Notre Dame and Cornell University because the draw to compete for my state, in the sport that my talent aligned to, was greater than the marginal enhanced academic experience would've provided me. I can tell you with certainty, that I, from the 3000 person town of Melrose, would not have attended the UofM without track and field. The dozens of students I've connected to alumni, friends and family, helping them directly get their first job, building community, that would not have been for my fellow gophers.

The University frames itself as a leader of innovation. We are driven to discover. Scientific research is meant to inspire, to drive aspirations higher, toward a more just, equitable, inclusive society moving forward. We as student-athletes have an innate desire to run, to jump, to throw. It is the most accessible of sport, at the highest level in the state. We are discovering the depths of our grit long past our talent's threshold. We do the outreach into schools, now teaching of activity to combat obesity instead of smoking in years past, often having high volunteer numbers because wearing the M has responsibility.

Do you know what the M does for you?

I know we spent hundreds of hours visiting schools to urge kids to be more active, to never begin smoking and to provide hope to kids. I also know of the dozens of seniors I edited resumes for across all sports with my fellow track alumni.

I know we are driven to discover, and cutting a program is to abandon the opportunity for my teammates without a 30+ ACT, yet have a talent and a deeper desire to learn at their state's university.