Every year each Big Ten institution awards a male and female student-athlete with a Medal of Honor. First awarded in 1915, the conference's most exclusive award was the first of its kind in intercollegiate athletics to recognize academic and athletic excellence. This week each of Ohio State’s ten Big Ten Medal of Honor finalists will be sharing their experiences as Buckeyes and what led them to become the outstanding student-athletes they are today.
Like many boys growing up, I was obsessed with two things: playing sports, and being the best at all of them. Since second grade I was known as the fastest kid around, and I spent the majority of my time proving it during my youth soccer games. It wasn't until track and field officially became an option for me in the seventh grade that I found my passion for hurdling. It started when my middle school coach called me over to try them because I had "the longest legs on this side of Cleveland." Looking back, I didn't realize just how much that moment changed my life. By the time 12th grade rolled around, I was the fastest high school hurdler in the country.
And sure enough, the phone calls and envelopes started coming in from universities all over. As a kid born and raised in Ohio, I was so excited to take this opportunity to get away and explore the country. Away from the incessant snow and into, well, anywhere else. However, my close relatives and friends demanded that I spend some time and visit a certain university in Columbus. I begrudgingly made the two-hour drive down Interstate 71 with my parents, and I never looked back.
Since I’ve gotten to Ohio State I’ve been able to experience amazing opportunities that have become some of the defining moments of my life. I’ve competed against and befriended incredible hurdlers; great people that have continued forward and represented their countries in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. I’ve raced my way into the status of 7th fastest hurdler in the nation in 2014, and one of the fastest in school history. I’ve volunteered to help run a track meet at the local deaf high school, a fun and humbling experience which served as a reminder of how to count my blessings every day. I’ve given a speech to over a thousand Ohio State athletic donors, which opened my eyes as to just how much people love and care for this university. I’ve been given a chance to work for the NCAA Competition Oversight Committee and become the voice of all NCAA Division I student-athletes, an incredible involvement that I doubt anybody but The Ohio State University could have provided me. Lastly, I’ve been accepted into the fantastic Ohio State Sport Management graduate program, one which will qualify me to achieve my professional dreams.
The Ohio State University has provided me with the balance of life that I looked so hard for. On one hand, a fantastic athletic department with top-of-the-line facilities and staff, and on the other hand a great school that will give me a quality education for life after track and field. With this balance I am able to achieve all of my dreams in one place, and I couldn't ask for much more than that. The pride in the school that I love and cherish, the tradition to do my very best in every endeavor, and the pursuit of excellence and reaching that next level -- that is what being a Buckeye means to me!
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