"Finding a School that will Keep Your Fire Going" - Jack Boyle
Whenever I think of athletes transitioning to from high school to college running one phenomenon that I tend to think about is why do some runners seamlessly enter the college ranks and have equal to greater success than in high school, and why do some on the other hand struggle to even maintain their past fitness and times. Obviously, each situation is different, some runners struggle with injuries, differences in training, or simply being away from home for the first time. These outside influences can clearly impact how an athlete will transition from one level to the next. When an athlete who was a blue-chip recruit or who came from a nationally ranked high school program (like myself - CBA in NJ) struggles, I often hear the term burn out associated with them when things don’t go as well in college as they did in high school. Yes, many of the external factors I mentioned may play into why certain athletes struggle in the NCAA despite immense high school success; however, I also feel like it might not have been so much one specific thing that caused the struggles but instead a combination of elements in their new situation that caused their former passion for the sport to diminish. When I think about what makes a successful track athlete passion for the sport is paramount. Most top high school coaches are able to make their athletes believe that track is not some inferior sport, but instead it is an exciting sport that can become a lifestyle. By encouraging this type of passion many high school athletes are instilled with a fire for the sport that is fed more and more as they continue to have more success and enjoyment with the sport. The transition to college can be tough as it can flip everything upside down and all of a sudden it can be unclear where this fire will be fed from. That it is why is important for high schoolers, before they even begin talking with schools, think about what makes them passionate about the sport (what feeds their fire) and try to ask each school the right questions to see if the passions are shared. For me, I came out of an elite high school program, and I wanted to find a program that had similar expectations to compete at nationals. I knew also that I was very self-motivated (at times too much maybe), but that it was important to be a part of a team with shared goals or else we could never achieve anything. I also had a goal to contribute right away wherever I went because I felt I would transition well to the longer distances in college and did not to redshirt. That is why I tried to ask each coach I visited with where they saw their program going, and what they felt I could do during my freshmen year. After I visited with Coach Wood and the Columbia team I knew this was a situation where my fire and passion would burn strong and be fed so that I could continue to grow and succeed in the sport. That is why asking the right questions that pertain specifically to you is essential during the recruiting process to ensure that you end up in the right situation where your fire for the sport can be constantly fed, and even if you struggle during the immediate transition to college your passion will remain which will ensure that you have the opportunity for future success in the sport.
Jack Boyle - Columbia University 3,000m - 8:14.10 , 5000m - 14:24.45, 10000m - 29:35.83