March 2014
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My Favorite Professor-Coach-Friend

When I think about the professors I’ve had and try to pick a favorite, my mind immediately jumps to my track coach. I could pick my FYS professor, Dr. Ursin, who made my first semester here really enjoyable, or Dr. Wronski, who I’ll be peer mentoring for next year, or my current advisor, Dr. Regis, or my Multimedia Authoring professor, Dr. Muhlhauser. They all have an influence on my college career so far and I appreciate every one of them for it.

However, my track coach, Dr. Upton, has had the most influence by far. It’s just convenient that he also happens to be a history professor and I took his Jan term class this past year. I’ve heard some people say he’s intimidating, but I never got that feeling from him.

I have many reasons for choosing Upton as my favorite professor, not the least of which is that we spend so much time together at track that it was bound to happen that he gives me some advice. I think everyone wants to find that one person that has the ability to motivate, inspire, understand, and advise them, and Upton is that person for me.

As my coach, he’s the one who gave me the skills and the confidence to get a personal record and fifth place in conferences last Sunday. I honestly don’t think I would have made it without his help, and I know it’s partially his belief in my ability that makes me believe I can break our school record. He also knows enough about me to throw in some strength circuit training at the end of taper week (which requires decreasing exercise time and intensity in order to give muscles amble time to recover and be 100%) to keep my mood positive.

As a professor, he’s the one (besides myself) that continues to push me to make sure I remember the opportunities available for me if I maintain my grades and become more involved, and he’s the one reminding me that I am good enough for those opportunities.

As someone I consider a friend, he helps me maintain my mental and emotional equilibrium, whether he knows it or not, and he’s someone I would talk to if I needed it. Sometimes, he says something I need to hear without my making it clear I need it, so he either pays really close attention or does it accidentally. I’m not too surprised at what he manages to understand about my personality after coaching me for a year and a half (he does like to help people, including if they’re angry or upset), but it does surprise me that sometimes all I need is the steady, encouraging vibe he gives off at practice to get me through the day, often coupled with the silliness of my track friends.

Upton is one of the people I’ve met in my life that I don’t know how to thank properly. He’s spent a lot of his time trying to make me a better person all around, not just a better athlete, and that means a lot to me. His opinion is one of the ones I respect the most, at least on some things, and it’s an honor to be able to help him on his book or any future endeavors he decides to undertake. I guess that’s one way of thanking him, but it’s also just interesting and fun.

I’m only a sophomore, so my favorite professor and even my most influential one might yet change before I graduate. I doubt it, though. As long as Upton continues to coach me, he’ll be one of the people I think I can count on for help, advise, a quirky joke, or tough love when I need it…and I think that will persist even after I graduate.

I wish everyone reading this someone in their life that’s as good of an influence as Upton has been on mine.

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