As an incoming freshman to CMU, I was looking forward to being a part of a team again. Running in high school was the place where I had been able to meet and be with my best friends. We laughed everyday after school and bonded on our runs and hill repeat workouts. Then, at CMU, as a scared freshman, it seemed that I was the only one without a family member to eat dinner with the Sunday before orientation activities started. I got a call from one of the girls and my new family welcomed me to the team. The women’s cross country team invited me to the upperclassmen-only dinner, feeding me, talking to me, and laughing with me. That day I knew that I had made the right choice to run in college.
Now, four years and many miles run with the girls that first welcomed me, along with many more who entered the following years later, I’m proud to say that I was a member of Carnegie Mellon’s cross country and track and field teams. Every year I grew as a person and matured as a runner alongside the team, who became my family, my friends. Even when I decided to take a semester off to work in Peru my sophomore year or study abroad in Mexico my junior year, I came back and was enveloped again in the family that is the team.
As I sit here thinking back on my time at CMU, it seems like my experience with athletics has been idyllic. Well, that hasn’t always been the case. Every family has its disagreements, but in the end, as I look back, I’m glad that they happened. I realized how to be strong, be my own person, and be a leader for the team in my senior year. My running greatly improved to the point that my senior season has been focused on making the NCAA Track and Field Championships, not on previous meets. However, even though I’m focused on my running, I know that the memories that I have will not be of my racing, but of the people that went to the meets with me: wandering into Coach’s office to stay and chat about nothing in particular, my housemates, eating oatmeal together every morning, rolling our eyes as one teammate says that he’s hungry every ten minutes, trying to drown out the singing of teammates during long bus rides, puzzling over ridiculous riddles, realizing the last run, the last meet, the last workout that you’re going to have with someone and imprinting it on your mind. My experience at CMU has been defined by athletics, not by my performances, but by my teammates and the memories that will stay with us forever.