Friday, July 17, 2009

Musselman - Why This Race Is So Special To Me

I first learned about the Musselman triathlon a few years before I even bought my first bike and immediatley was excited to eventually do the race. Having spent three of the greatest years of my life in Geneva, NY the town is incredibly special to me as Hobart & William Smith Colleges (HWS) had a huge influence on the person I've become. In the classroom I learned how to become an independent thinker and on the football field I learned how to lead and how to believe in myself. Coach Cragg, Coach Walsh and the rest of the staff were instrumental in providing the extra pride one needs in themselves to strive to always be proud of the "man in the glass". The friends I made on the football team are like brothers to me, one will be there to support me during the race, while another will be at home with his new born daughter! But more than anything running through the HWS campus will remind me of how far I've come while recharging the pride I have in my roots.

While at Hobart I'm not sure if the grocery stores in Geneva could have stocked enough beer for my friends and me. I was a beer swigging, pizza box stacking offensive lineman who would walk around the college bars with a pitcher of beer in each hand. I worked my butt off in the weight room, ran sprint after sprint and probably focused much more on the gridiron than the classroom. At the time I didn't know how to harness my intensity and passion as I was still learning to become a well rounded, adult. But most importantly I had a coaching staff and a group of friends who believed in someone 5 or 6 inches shorter than any of his fellow offensive lineman and had the confidence in him to let him lead. Although that didn't help me develop the humility I would later need for professional success, it did give me the confidence that I could face any challenge I'd be encountered with.

So on Sunday when I run through the HWS campus during the last stretch of the race I'll be reminded of how far I've come, but also how without Hobart I never would have been able to face diabetes in the way that I have. That 245 lbs offensive lineman still lives somewhere deep inside me and comes out to say hello every few months but I'm a much more mature, humble (although some of my friends will laugh at that) individual than I was back then. I will think of some of the great professors I had at Hobart, I will be reminded of how they taught us to form our own thoughts, question everything and develop our own way of doing things. I will be reminded of friends from the past who all had a hand in my development.

But most of all I will think of the fall Saturdays on Bozwell field and how special it felt to be part of the football program's progress. I was the starting center on the first Hobart football team to make the NCAA D3 playoffs. I will never forget how much we all believed in each other during the 2000 season, how incredible the leadership on that team was and how motivated we all were to reach a common goal. I will be reminded that without the hot summer days preparing for that season; without throwing up on my Dad's shoes when I would ask him to make me run sprints on 90 degree July days; without playing through games with a separated shoulder; without ever having had the number 62 be so special to me and without raising the orange & purple high I never would have been able to face this disease the way I have. HWS always has and forever will have a very special place in my heart.


Kim said...

fantastic reminiscent post - i'm looking forward to sharing this special weekend with you and watch you kick butt at this race! (oh, and to eat the subs at wegmens!)

PJ said...

Awesome. And all good things to focus on/remember when the going get tough out there.

Can't wait to hear about it. Kick some butt!