When I first sat down to write this reflection, it came as a shock to me how little I remember of freshman year. Of course, there are some things I remember. I remember attending the first team meeting in August, and feeling absolutely terrified by the upperclassmen, who were of course normal people, but to me seemed like these tall, gorgeous, confident, outgoing, and unequivocally fast runners. I remember, during the first few weeks of school, assuring my parents that I wasn’t homesick and that I was acclimating perfectly to college life, but actually feeling overwhelmed and uprooted since it was my first time not having that safe haven I called home to return to every night. I remember scrutinizing my every move, whether it was in the classroom or on the track, because I feared someone else would scrutinize it first.
Those are the facts that I remember, but by now I’ve forgotten what it really felt like to be lonely or homesick or scared of judgment from my peers. I can’t walk around in those shoes anymore, even though they were my own shoes, because I’ve grown so much as a person. When I reflect on my time at CMU, I give this track and field team a lot of credit for helping me become the person I wanted to be.
I think in college it’s easy to suddenly find yourself lost because you no longer have that obvious anchor, and for me the track team became my anchor. Over the past four years, I’ve learned to love and trust this team more than I ever thought I could unconditionally love a group of people. Even as a freshman, I felt included by the upperclassmen when they had wings nights on Thursdays or when we celebrated our victory over Case Western Reserve. As the years went by and I had my own ups and downs, I found that my teammates were the first ones I could go to for support. What CMU track and field meant to us wasn’t contained on the track. Rather, you felt like a part of the team no matter where you were or what you were dealing with, and I think that’s what makes this team so special.
To the incoming freshmen, I want to leave you with this message: when you meet those tall, gorgeous, confident, outgoing upperclassmen for the first time in August, don’t be afraid. This team is what shaped them into the incredible people they are today, and if you give the team a chance, it will do the same for you.