As a naive high school athlete, I had no idea what to look for in a collegiate cross country/track & field program. I visited several schools, but the thing that really stood out to me at Minnesota was how much it felt like a family, and how much that family welcomed me in right away. During my time on the team, I had a lot of struggles with injury, largely my own fault, which stopped me from discovering my athletic potential. But alongside this personal struggle was a family of friends and coaches who were there to support me and encourage me to find the things in life that made me who I am today. Despite the downs, I have not once regretted my decision to be a Gopher because the experience gave me my closest friends and taught me to persevere through adversity, no matter how many times I'd fallen down and gotten back up.

The decision to remove the men's track & field team is a tragedy and a tone-deaf, short-sighted mistake by Mark Coyle. The numbers speak for themselves that the money saved by eliminating the team is nothing compared to the exorbitant spending by the athletic department on things that are not necessary to have a healthy, successful athletic department. It is preposterous that one the largest universities in the country, with one of the richest athletic departments, is unable to afford to sponsor the highest-participation high school sport in the country. There are thousands of kids out there right now who dream of someday running, jumping or throwing for the Gophers. This action kills that dream, and erases a long history of family, diversity, and excellence. No one apart from Mark Coyle and university administrators think this is the right move, so how could it be?