The Class of 2018 walked across the stage yesterday during the Commencement Ceremony at Waynesburg University. I wanted to congratulate the entire class – and I wish you the best. Go out an change the world!
For this particular blog, I wanted to write about my feelings regarding a small portion of that class – the WU distance squad. I call them the “Game changers”. It’s a term I remember from a book I read a few years ago regarding the 2018 presidential election (The book is titled Game Change and was written by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin). Every time I use the term “game changer”, I think of that book. The book details a lot of events and decision made that helped Barack Obama become President of the United States. Similar to the theme in that book, this class put some things in motion that changed the course of history for our cross country and track programs. Ultimately, they changed the culture. They changed the way the game is played. They made history.
10 men and women graduated in this class. Sure they had some similarities, but they had a lot of differences. One of them grew up less than a mile from campus yet another drove a car over nine hours to return home every break. Their majors range from sports broadcasting to business to nursing. Some of them excelled at short distance races (including the hurdles) while a handful preferred running 25 laps on an oval track (the dreaded 10k). Some of them preferred cowboy boots and country music, and others preferred putt putt golf and Taylor Swift. They didn’t always see eye to eye. For some groups (or teams), these differences could have destroyed any path to success.
But… They are FAMILY.
What’s particularly admirable about this group of “game changers” is that they always put the team first and sacrificed individual goals for the betterment of the program. Their numbers are incredible. In fact, what they accomplished may never be matched by another incoming class. But what you cannot measure that makes me so proud (as their coach) is that they changed our culture. The team was successful before they arrived to campus but they took us to a new level. They brought confidence. They brought cohesiveness. They were selfless. And they came to work every day trying to make themselves and their teammates better.
To say that I am grateful for their time here is an understatement.
Their lasting legacy will be that future generations of Waynesburg distance runners will be grateful for their time here too. Why? Because they changed the game and the way that game was played!
Chris Hardie is the Head Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Coach at Waynesburg University. You can follow him on Twitter @Coach_Hardie_WU or follow the team on Facebook at Waynesburg University Cross Country.