Sometimes itâ€™s not the stars of the team that deserve the attention. Sometimes itâ€™s the guy who wasnâ€™t born with natural talent, but who has clawed and fought his way to reach the top.
Andy Cottrell is a junior on the Trinity cross-country and track teams. Over the course of the past five years, Cottrell has run thousands of miles to get to where he is today and has faced many obstacles, but persevered nonetheless.
â€œIf you just compare how I was running five years ago in high school to now, itâ€™s just completely different. A lot of that is coaching, and having good teammates and being in the right environment,â€ Cottrell said. â€œBut I was a baseball player until I was about 16 and then I just changed [to cross country]. So itâ€™s not like itâ€™s something Iâ€™ve been doing my whole life; itâ€™s just something I worked for.â€
Throughout his running career, Cottrell has dealt with three stress fractures, meaning he was set back several months of training compared to his teammates. During the weeks of swimming and biking he did to regain his strength, there were moments where he doubted being on the team was worth it at all.
â€œI guess itâ€™s hard not to have thoughts like that when youâ€™re super involved in something,â€Â Cottrell said.Â â€œI just kind of fought through it. But yeah, itâ€™s tough. Itâ€™s a very demanding sport.â€
Cottrell spent his first year at Trinity catching up to the guys who quickly became his best friends on campus.
â€œAndy came in with injuries, so that was difficult for him,â€ said Michael Erickson, a senior cross-country captain. â€œThereâ€™s a lot of extra work you have to put in behind the scenes, and I donâ€™t think other people on the team always realize that. He came back the next year and really outperformed what everyone thought he could do.â€
Last fall, Cottrell was named by his coaches as the male representative on the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference All-Sportsmanship team. He won 9th place for the men at their conference championship race and was named the Trinity University cross-country Tiger of the Year.
â€œI got [the Tiger of the Year award] for most integrity and improvement, and it was a huge surprise, so that was really nice,â€ Cottrell said.
While the runner himself may be humble, his teammates and coaches speak very highly of him.
â€œAndyâ€™s dealt with a lot of adversity compared to some of the other kids that have it a little easier,â€ said Emily Daum, head cross-country coach. â€œHeâ€™s always kept a really positive attitude about it, and thatâ€™s something I will always admire in him and itâ€™s something his teammates can look up to.â€
Cottrellâ€™s teammates find his place on the team to be invaluable.
â€œHeâ€™s probably the most grounded person on the team. We tease him sometimes, but everyone loves him. You need people like that on the team,â€ Erickson said.
After a surprising comeback during his sophomore year, the team expects him to succeed even more his junior year.
â€œWe werenâ€™t really expecting Andy to do what he did. Itâ€™s a really neat thing to see someone transform as he did and become one of the top guys on our team over just the course of a year,â€ Daum said.
As for his running plans for after college, Cottrell suggested that the way he runs may evolve, but that it will always be a part of his life.
â€œI think Iâ€™ll keep running but itâ€™ll be in a different way. Iâ€™d like to get into some longer distances, like marathons. I think when youâ€™re in a sport, especially like cross-country, it just creates this lifestyle. It kind of sticks with you, even after youâ€™re done,â€ Cottrell said.
You can catch Cottrell and his teammates racing through the Olmos Basin at their first cross country meet of the year next Friday, Sept. 1 at 7 a.m.