After putting on their college’s uniform one last time thousands of collegiate track and field and cross country athletes find themselves wondering, “What next?” For a lucky few, they will receive sponsors from large athletic corporations to help fund their athletic careers. For the vast majority, a new journey begins, whether it be post-graduate studies, starting a career, or something entirely different. But what if you still have the itch to continue in the sport that you have put the last 4 years of your life into? Where do you compete? Where do you train? Who do you train with? Who will coach you? These are just a few of the questions that many student athletes never worried about due to the tremendous support of collegiate athletics within the United States.
For me, my journey began after graduating from Cornell University in May of 2009. After my graduation, I still had several competitions left where I would still be competing for Cornell in my last collegiate track season. The NCAA and USA Championships were weeks after my graduation and the lease on my college apartment already ended. It was during this time that I realized how difficult it would be to continue to in the sport of track and field. I was training full time while living on a teammates couch and receiving a small daily stipend for food from the University. I realized how lucky I was to have this opportunity for only a few weeks, because when this time was over I would be hard pressed to find amazing training facilities, a coach that was like a second father to me, and best friends and teammates all within 2 miles of each other.
I began my post-collegiate career in 2010 when I moved to Milwaukee with my college girlfriend, Kelly Hansen, where she works for SC Johnson and while I work at BMO Financial Group. Kelly has made my life much easier and has put up with me and the endless hours I have put into coaching and training. She was an All-Conference lacrosse player at Cornell and part of an Ivy-League Championship team and understands why I enjoy putting so much time into a sport.
In October 2010, I approached the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to exchange time on their track and in their weightlifting facilities for my help coaching their high jumpers. It has worked out extremely well for both parties as I have been able to continue my training at an amazing school and UWM has had very successful high jumpers including Laura Hamel (5’8.5” personal best), Quinn Mongoven (7’0.5”) and Nick Hughes (6’11”).
In February 2011, I had to stop training and competing as I needed surgery for a bone growth on the back of my heel that would constantly dig into my Achilles tendon causing severe tendonitis. After the surgery I had a ton of swelling and difficulty gaining flexibility back in my ankle. A friend recommended Zensah Compression Socks which helped tremendously and I am back feeling like I never had the surgery. I swear by Zensah’s products and have used them for every practice and competition since and my ankles and calves have stayed injury free.
In short I would not have made it as far as I have in the sport of track and field without the support of several key people, companies, and colleges. My friends, family and girlfriend have continued to support my track and field habit and always been there to share in my achievements – achievements that I would not have been able to have without great training facilities, teammates, and a healthy body. I would like to send my sincere appreciation for everyone who has supported me and been there for me along the way.
Garrett was a 2009 NCAA DI All-American and has cleared higher than 7’0” over 40 times. He has a personal best of 7’3”. Follow Garrett on Twitter @garrettHUYLER