"On the Road Again" is a series of stories highlighting several of the University's student-athletes and their study abroad and/or international playing experiences. The GO (Global Opportunities) program at Susquehanna ensures that each student will have a meaningful cross-cultural experience abroad or in the U.S. during their four years at Susquehanna.
While it can be tricky to balance studying abroad and athletics, as you'll see in this series, Susquehanna's student-athletes are doing just that while still others are opting to extend that experience by returning abroad to play their respective sport.
Senior cross country and track & field athlete Alex Price '15 is a prime example of a student-athlete who combined a semester abroad with athletics and returned to Susquehanna just in time to be crowned a champion.
As a business major at Susquehanna University, I knew that I would be required to study abroad in London during my junior year. It was a trip I looked forward to until I realized that I would have to decide if I should miss the fall cross country season or the indoor-outdoor track seasons. Weighing the pros and cons, I finally decided that I would travel during the spring semester of 2014. My GO story shows that if you truly want to achieve something, the only thing stopping you is you. I was confident that my trip to London would not interfere with the goals that were set for me.
During the fall 2013 cross country season, our team won the Landmark Conference Championships with record-setting times. It was our first conference title since I joined SU's cross country team. That being a huge motivator, I was excited for the spring track season with our sights set on another title. The idea of leaving for London in January was all of a sudden less appealing. I wanted to stay on campus and continue my training with the team and have an opportunity to compete in the spring championship meet. After a conversation with my coach, Marty Owens, I decided I could continue to train on my own while in London. I would still have an opportunity to compete at the Outdoor Championships upon my return.
At the time of the original conversation with my coach, it was more of a joke than an actual goal that I would compete in the spring championship meet. However, I did compete in an indoor track meet at Bucknell University prior to leaving for London. At that meet, I met the qualifying times for the 5,000 and 10,000 meter races, allowing me to be able to compete in the outdoor championships to be held in May, 2014. Now it was up to me. How serious was I and how badly did I want to be competitive and have an opportunity to race in the championships?
Upon arriving in London, my first priority was figuring out how I was going to train. Where was I going to run? Would I have the time? Is this at all possible? Running in a major city like London had its challenges. However, a park right next to the flat that I was living in made it easier than I had expected. At this point, I was already missing the team and competing. I continually followed the results of all SU's meets, watching my teammates run faster and faster. It motivated me to continue with my training. Fortunately, I was able to run in Hyde Park every day and hit around 45-50 miles per week, which is about average for our team. At the indoor championship, our men's team came within 18 points of winning. It was such a close margin. I couldn't help feel that if I was home, maybe I could have helped score a few more key points to help us win. At that point, I decided to stop playing the "what-if" game in my head, just focus on my training and continue to get faster and faster.
I emailed my coach, asking for workouts and training schedules to help me prepare. I couldn't have been more motivated and dedicated to training. The workouts were grueling and lonely at times. There's something to be said for training with your teammates. Knowing the team was counting on me motivated me to keep going, though. Also, I was motivated by proving to those who doubted that I could do it.
I returned home on April 27, knowing the outdoor championships were May 3. I had one week to get home, unpack, spend a little time with my family and friends and then head back to SU. Once at SU, I boarded a bus and rode to USMMA on Long Island for the outdoor championships. My head was spinning! I was insecure, fearing that I wasn't in good enough shape, not to mention that I hadn't raced on a track in over five months. This was also my first time racing on a 10k track. Regardless of my insecurities, I had to remain focused.
The moment I had been waiting for was here. I'm in position on the track and the gun goes off. The time has come to show what I'm capable of. Giving all I had for 25 laps, I finish fifth in the conference. Though happy with my results, there was no time to celebrate. I needed to mentally prepare for the 5000 meter race, scheduled for the next day.
Unfortunately, I would be competing against runners that hadn't raced yet and were still fresh and ready to go. Those of us than ran the 10K the day before needed to find the strength and energy for our upcoming race. Prior to our event, we were ahead of Moravian and in first for the team standings. We needed to hold off their top distance runners in order to maintain the lead. There was a lot riding on this final race. Losing wasn't an option. Pulling from all of my resources, I gave the race everything I had.
Hoping to finish in the top eighth in the conference, I was pleasantly surprised with my fifth-place finish. I couldn't believe it. All the miles logged in London, all the workouts completed without the support of my team members all paid off. Many times I questioned whether I could meet my goal on my own and at times, thought about quitting. I am so glad I didn't. We celebrated our conference win with great pride. It was the first time in conference history that SU took the outdoor title. Words can't describe the feeling of coming together as a team, competing and coming out on top… together.
Studying abroad as a student-athlete was the best decision of my college career. Having the opportunity to study in London, meet new people and make new friends was a once in a lifetime experience. Not to mention having the chance to run and train in the most amazing city in the world. The experience was priceless. I was able to grow physically, mentally and academically in a way that can only happen when studying abroad. The friendships I made and the stories and experiences we share is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.