When asked what track and field means to me, it’s hard to put it into words as without track and field, my life would be entirely different. What started as a sport to test my speed in 7th grade, turned into a passion and pursuit for excellence across the span of 18 years that continues to this day. While my athletic career was not particularly successful in college, the experience was life changing and taught me several valuable life skills that can’t be taught in the classroom. Being part of this sport and the team at Minnesota taught me how to persevere through trials and never give up on my goals. As someone who struggles to stay focused, running taught me discipline, better time management skills, how to handle stress under pressure, and how to channel that focus and dig deeper than I thought I could to push myself when I want something bad enough. I’ve been offered more jobs because of my experience with Gopher track than my degree has ever gotten me. These skills have carried with me and have been invaluable for overcoming difficult situations to achieve success in the workplace and Coach Wilson is still a mentor of mine to this day.

My high school coaches, many whom are Gopher men’s track alums, were positive mentors that helped me achieve two state titles in high school which allowed me the chance to join the Gopher track team for college as a walk-on (which turned into a book scholarship.) I turned down big scholarships at other DI schools to attend Minnesota due to the strong academics and the chance to compete at the highest level representing my home state and be part of the family-like atmosphere the coaches instilled in the teams here. I was also influenced to attend MN by the good experience I had a cross country camp hosted by the Gopher men’s coaches here and also by the success of other athletes from my high school who went on to become Gophers before me. Without track, I would not have considered this school.

My experience with Gopher track motivated me to become a coach which led me on a 7 year coaching journey with stops in Chicago, rural Kentucky, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland. My experience as a Gopher has shaped my coaching and left a lasting impact on hundreds of young men and women across the country who look up to the top athletes on the Gopher's team. Through this sport, I have traveled to 26 different states, earned a masters degree (paid for by coaching), met my fiancé and many great friends in Chicago, and experienced new cultures and diversity in ways I never would have experienced had I just stayed in Minnesota and not been involved with this sport which has greatly expanded my world view. Without track and field, none of this would have happened, and I have no idea where I’d be today. While chasing wins and personal bests is what motivated me, when I look back, I don’t remember all the races or other material things; what I remember most is the people and the memories made together over this incredible journey. When you become a Gopher, you join a family of athletes and the M never comes off. I hope to preserve the legacy this program has left over 130 years of turning young boys into confident and successful young men and the dreams of countless young boys across Minnesota who hope to one day run for the Gophers. Ski U Mah!