Editor’s note: The Campus Times reached out to several senior UR athletes and offered them a chance to share their thoughts on their four years at the University. Dan Nolte, a cross country and track-and-field athlete, offers his below.

After running for four years in high school, I thought I fully understood my relationship with the sport that had, in many ways, come to define my life up to that point.

But once I got to UR, I realized I had a lot to learn. Competing in cross country and track at the University taught me that being part of a community of serious athletes is a major reason that I love this sport, and that it’s from my engagement with this community that I derive much of my meaning from competition.

I don’t have to look far to find examples of how being part the URXCTF community has come to shape my experience at UR.

Consider my most recent Saturday morning. I spent it Gleason Theater, where about sixty UR Track and Cross Country athletes, alumni, and friends of the team crowded together to watch a livestream of one of our teammates (Annie Peterson) compete in the NCAA DIII National Championships in Louisville, Kentucky. We cheered, speculated about results, and just generally geeked-out about our sport with the only people on campus who would ever care to do so with us.

Or take last week, when five families of local team members were gracious enough to host over 30 out-of-season athletes who traveled six hours to New Jersey to support our cross country teams competing at the NCAA Regional Championship.

Or a week before that, when I attended an annual team-wide talent show (we call it Track-offee House) where, for three hours, track team members sing, dance, and perform assorted “less-conventional” acts (e.g. iced tea identification) in front of nearly a hundred teammates and friends.

When I think about the URXCTF community, I think about how, whenever returning home from a meet on a bus, the team sings our alma mater, The Genesee,  as we turn onto Wilson Boulevard and make our way to the locker room. (This tradition in particular makes it sort of impossible not to have immense pride in our school and our program.)

I want desperately to be successful as an athlete here, and I devote a lot of time and energy into being the best distance runner I can be. Once I graduate, I hope to continue to train and compete at a high level. (Hell, I’m hoping to stay a fifth year at UR largely so that I can complete using extra eligibility that I’ve accrued during my time here.)

But I recognize that all of my successes as an athlete will seem less and less important as I grow older, and that, after a certain point, I’ll remember my time at UR only through my experiences with the compassionate, hardworking, and like-minded community of friends within the URXCTF community.

And so I count myself so fortunate to be able to train, travel, cheer, eat, joke, dance, and compete with such a special group of friends. This community has made my experience at the University unforgettable, and so much better than I ever expected it would be. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

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