Photography and Story by Héctor Gutiérrez
Every sport cultivates a culture of its own. Gavin Thurlow has managed to establish a thriving culture on his team, one where people earn their place through sportsmanship, hard work, and commitment. As I later learn, track and field culture weighs heavily on the physical and mental aspects of running. However, Gavin’s approach to his sport goes beyond growing physically fit or mental toughness.
As I do with all athletes, I ask Gavin what makes a successful runner. “Heart,” he says. “You gotta put your heart in the things you do, or you’ll never be as good as you can be.”
Aerobic (adj.) : living, active, or occurring only in the presence of oxygen
Gavin Thurlow stands out–literally.
At six-foot-four, he towers over most of the students on campus as he hurries down the halls, waving and smiling, but always keeping his eyes forward.
The everyday race for Gavin extends beyond the track. His feet pound on the rubber with as much grace and athleticism as one can exude while running; it just comes naturally to him. This race continues into the classroom, on to his job, and on the road. He began at fifteen, and has kept a consistent rhythm ever since.
“When I’m running, my eyes are set forward. They are always focused on what’s in front of me,” the senior athlete says.
It’s a nice afternoon on campus. Two lacrosse players throw passes on the turf while a flock of track athletes run laps at a comfortable pace under the sun. From the moment he steps foot outside, Gavin doesn’t stop smiling. It’s contagious, to say the least. He radiates a sense of confidence that comes off as genuine instead of cocky.
I find myself rooting for this guy right away.
Gavin begins his warm-up while I remain on the turf. Due to an injury, his time spent on the running track has been limited in the recent weeks, but the simple act of stretching brings a sense of progress. It’s easy to tell that this track represents a place where he feels safe, but also a place where he can grow.