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I came to NMH as a sophomore, as a kid who was so far from home so far that the 8:00 in the morning around here was actually 8:00 at night back there. It was the first time in my life I realized that I have become a minority; I was a world apart, now living among a group of kids who grow up eating Doritos.

Sports culture in China, as many of you may know, is quite different from that of the US. With eight academic classes a day, and our only way of getting into any college is to get certain score on a SAT-like test that each one of us only gets one shot at in a lifetime, our parents and teachers would have to force us focus on studying for that test. So, when I came to NMH, it was a brave new world, the kids in US could start training for their sports at the age of 4 or 5 through participation in peewee football, hockey, larcrosse; yet I will get into disciplinary probation in China if I tried to play basketball after class!

Despite all that, before coming to America I thought I was pretty athletic, yet after the 150-lb me kept getting pushed and knocked to the ground by the 200-lb big guys and being yelled by the coaches because I have no idea what the play was, I began to let self-doubt kick in.I began questioning whether I should continue doing sports. As is often the case, self-doubt brings self-destruction, and self-destruction brings dozens of absent points along with restrictions.

Hence, my suggestion? Next time, when you see one of your international teammates who seems out of sync, please do not blame him and instead, help him out. Many of you are fortunate, that you have the opportunity to grow up playing this sports all the time, while some kid like me who didn’t know what a football looked like until I came to NMH in 2011. Just imagine if your coach throws you in a cricket match against some others who have been practicing or at least watch the game for years, how will you be able to compete with them? It’s not that your international teammates are not willing to put in extra time to work, it‘s merely that many of them don’t have the opportunity to put in the extra time.

So, after trying several different sports, I choose to take on track and field, mainly for the reason that I wanted to fulfill my sports credit. I first tried out as sprinter, thinking that I was pretty fast, but when realizing that I had to compete against recruited PG athletes such as Max Delia and CJ Logan for a spot on the 4x100 team, I accepted Coach Donald Marshall’s offer to train me as a hurdler without hesitation, because I just want to get a sports credit, and in order to do that, I need to stay on a team. Soon enough I realized that I made a huge mistake, because for a novice, hopping over hurdle does not means to do it with grace, it means to do it in any way possible, and that year of track experience as a hurdler was not necessarily a good one, as I basically tripped over every single hurdle I tried.

Then things take quite a change in my junior season, when I came back again to the team, thinking that I might suffer another season of falling over hurdles, the legend comes. It was no one but Osedebamen Imekoparia, as many of you know him by the name of “Ose.” You could tell that he is different, not only because of his blistering speed on the track and football field, but also the amount of focus he exerted during every single warm-up drill and technique practice. It was because of him that I decided to rejoin the sprinter squad and look up to him as the role model, continuing outworking myself in the weight room and on the track.

Somehow like magic, you’ll fall in love with something once you become good at it -- it’s the love of seeing the payoff of hard work. I began to enjoy the feeling of sprinting, because at that very moment, I was just there, not worrying about the future nor the past, just focusing on every single step-over and drive-down. Moreover, with our legendary long-distance runner squad led by Coach Grant Gonzalez constantly contributing to NMH’s Track & Field team with dominating wins in meets other schools, I, like other members of the team, feels the amount of in-team competition and also decided to live up to their hype.

This past spring break before my senior year, I wanted to do something different rather than just traveling around; I wanted to run in some place warmer, put in more extra work in order to get ready to contribute more to NMH's track team in my final season.

So I signed up for track and field camp in IMG Academy down in Florida. And once I went there on March 9, my adrenaline hit its peak when I heard from Coach Joice that I was going to train with Olympians such as Demitrius Pinder. However, the excitement soon turned into unimaginable suffering as the practices went on every day twice from 9:00 to 11:00 and 1:30 to 3:30 along with a lifting session from 4:30 to 5:30. It was a whole new training intensity for me, and I gradually realized it was indeed possible to vomit after you ran hard. However, after watching those pro athletes out there trying to outwork themselves day in and day out, I chose to push myself through the training.

Sitting in a Chinese History classroom with more than 70 classmates in Beijing’s Middle School 4 years ago, I never imagined that I would spend the rest of my high school life down the other side of the earth. Stepping into Northfield Mount Hermon's James Gym for the first time with the XXXL Jordan T-shirt on the XS me, I was astonished by the athletic build of those who hit weights inside. For me back then, I never even dreamed about becoming an athlete myself; and yet, here I am, writing this letter, ready to run at the collegiate level.

It's not like a dream come true, it's bigger than that, because I never have dreamed about this. Indeed, you’ll never know where life will take you, eventually all the pieces will fall into place, until then, just laugh at the confusion, live for the moment, and please keep in mind that, everything happens for a reason.


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