I can remember the day like it was yesterday. It was a cold and damp morning in Pittsburgh on Oct. 30, 2004, when I ran away from my Atlantic 10 competition and into the record books. On that day, the Spider was King.
The individual championship I won is something that can never be taken away from me. But at the time, my teammates and I knew the accomplishment was just one more step in the journey our program was making towards gaining national respect from around the nation as a legitimate college program.
On Saturday, the Richmond cross country team took another big step in that journey. Both the men's and women's teams scored victories in Pittsburgh; the same course where I was victorious exactly six years before. I am sure The Collegian will report on the accomplishments, but suffice it to say that the Spiders collected almost every accolade handed out by the conference on Saturday.
In times like these, it is very easy to undervalue success. You may read the story in The Collegian and assume these results must have been expected. The things that most often get overlooked however, especially when it comes to cross country, are the enormous sacrifices that have carried these athletes to the top of their sport. To be as successful as the current Spiders, requires year-round commitment. These athlete's training schedules are a 365-day per year routine. To be the best, these sacrifices last an entire college career.
Throughout my time at Richmond, people often asked me if I regretted choosing a sport that required so much dedication. They wanted to know if I ever considered stepping away from the rigorous training to live the life of a "regular" college student. I never once second-guessed my choice.
While the sport is not for everyone, it is extraordinarily rewarding for those who dedicate themselves to the training. Cross country and track at Richmond gave me the opportunity to compete at the highest collegiate level while enjoying the other great aspects of the University of Richmond community.
I cherish every chance I got to race with "Richmond" written across my chest and to serve as a positive representation of the school at various locations throughout the country.
As a person, I also learned many things that have been extremely valuable to me in my life since the time I graduated from Richmond. The sport taught me to set goals and to strive to reach them; even if that required years of patience.
The sport taught me how to humbly accept victory, and also how to conquer defeat. Through my four years at Richmond, I learned to always exert my greatest effort, even when no one was watching, because I saw how the results of hard work are evidence enough.
I am sure that almost everyone reading this article has had something beyond academics that enriches their life at University of Richmond. While you may not understand the specifics of being a cross country athlete, I imagine you do understand how the availability of these opportunities improve the University of Richmond experience.
I believe that the possibility of having a similar experience as my own is extremely valuable. At this time, the best way members of the community -- past, present and future -- can support the cross country program is by ensuring that these athletes always have the opportunity to participate and compete throughout the year.
Combining this support with the program already in place, you can be sure that this weekend will not be the last time Richmond stands victorious on a podium, with the Spider reigning as King.
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