During my time at Emory I have had the privilege of being both the student and the athlete. While the academic portion of my experience was at the forefront of my priorities, being on the varsity track and field team had a large influence on my life. As I begin to reflect on all my memories from these years, I have realized that my experiences with track — specifically as a multi-eventer — are very similar to my experiences with Emory as a whole, a metaphor if you will.
I came to Emory with the intention of being a javelin thrower. However, it was not long until the coaches saw my potential as a multi-eventer and started training me for a decathlon, in which the javelin throw is included. My coaches soon had me competing in decathlons (ten events) and heptathlons (seven events), both consisting of a variety of jumps, throws and running events. I was by no means a stand-out athlete in any of the separate events that make up these multi-events. In fact, looking at my individual performances in each event, I was pretty mediocre. It was only when all my performances were combined for a final score that I was able to surpass the competition. This balance — the idea of looking at the whole, adding up all the parts — is what helped me to excel not only on the track, but during my time here at Emory as well.
I was never an academic scholar, but I made good grades. I was never the Resident Adviser of the Year, but I provided my residents with a great community in which to live. I was never the president of my fraternity, but I had fun and led in an informal way. I never made an Emmy-worthy TV show, but I made hours of entertaining content that many students enjoyed every week. I never won an individual track and field event, but I did win a decathlon. I like this balance. I like not being able to be tied down or known to people as the frat guy, the track guy or the ETV guy. I did not want to be defined by the organizations I was a part of; I wanted to define myself.
There is another motive to approaching life the same way as the decathlon. Track and field is thought of as an individual sport; everyone does a specific event and is isolated with the others doing that same event. One of the most rewarding parts of being a decathlete for Emory was that, having to train for all the different events, I got the chance to meet and befriend the track team as a whole. Having friends from all over the university in all different niches has taught me so much and given me such an invaluable experience and even more importantly, invaluable friends.
Remembering Emory through the metaphor of the decathlon, recalling all that I have learned and all the people I have met, I am happy. I am happy because I know that I won in multiple ways.
Stephen Beehler is a College senior from Leawood, Kansas.