I left for the University of Massachusetts in the fall of 1991 with one thought on my mind.
Competing as a runner was my dream and my passion at the time. As you might imagine, life got in the way a time of two.
Over the next four years running had its ups and downs. I suffered a multitude of sickness and injuries. This included a bout with mononucleosis my sophomore year.
Despite all that happened to me I managed to run a 4:16 mile and I competed in the New England Championships all 12 seasons. Consistency through adversity if what I am most proud of from those years.
I never had the breakthrough that I wanted. I drank too much on the weekends and could never figure out how to dial my training back or up enough do what I thought I was capable of.
My career as a collegiate athlete ended in the spring of 1995. It ended unfulfilled and it was my fault.
I didn't reach my potential as an athlete and, maybe because of this, during the winter of my senior year I started having thoughts about my next move.
I was graduating in the spring and I didn't want to be be ready for life in the real world.
One day I decided that I wanted to be a coach.
The only thing that I knew about being a coach was the coaches that I knew were grad assistants first.
Grad school came on my radar at that moment.
Another thing that had been on my radar was the Rocky Mountains.
I always loved to explore. While at UMass I had spend hours pouring over old topo maps looking for remote trails and relics. I spend many an afternoon logging countless miles running on old dirt roads and up and down whatever hill I could find. Exploring was in my blood and I became obsessed with seeing the west.
I was 22 and about to graduate college. This was the time to go west. In my mind it was my time to explore.
My grades weren't that good so almost all the graduate schools that I applied to rejected me.
The University of Northern Colorado was the lone school school that said yes.
In August of 1995 I packed my new bachelor's degree in Sport Management, my bike and my life in my dad's old van and we set off for Greeley, Colorado.
I lived on my own for the next 3 years in Colorado. It was truly an adventure. I drove back and forth to New England by myself twice a year just to prove that I could. I spend many hours exploring in Boulder and Telluride and Steamboat Springs and other places around the state when I was able.
I also drank too much and struggled mightily to develop interpersonal relationship skills. I ran up a lot of debt as well.
There were some amazing experiences that I will relish for the rest of my life.
Like an idiot I went to UNC with with no position as grad assistant. Lucky for me I did find one that I had to volunteer for. I had the privilege of working with a great coach and amazing team for three years.
I even got to go to several national championship meets.
To this day I am extremely thankful for the opportunity that I had at the University of Northern Colorado. I made a lot of mistakes, I grew a lot and I created many experiences that I still cherish today.
For three years I ran, I biked, I explored, I worked, I coached and I learned to live.
I also was swimming in debt and I felt very out of place in Greeley, Colorado in the spring of 1998. I had earned my Masters degree in Physical Education with an emphasis in coaching as well.
It was clear that it was time for me to move on to the next phase of my life.
My dream had to been to become a grad assistant coach and then a head coach. I knew that wasn't going to happen where I was so I packed up my car and I made that last lonely trip across the country.
One day I was an assistant coach in Colorado and a few days later I was back living with my dad in Massachusetts getting ready to spend the summer doing what I had done ever summer for many years.
I was 25 now and I was painting houses with my dad wondering just what was next on the agenda.
At the time I never would have figured raising a family would be next.... but it was.