Waverly Neer is a 2011 graduate of Culver Academy. While in high school, she was a 2x Indiana Gatorade Athlete of the Year and held the indoor 5,000 meter record and now sits at No.15 all-time. She was also a two time state champion, once in cross country and another in the 1600m run. She went on to run for Columbia and then the University of Oregon. At Oregon she was a member of the 2015 cross country team which placed 3rd overall with Neer being the top duck placing 27th. Below she pens a letter to her high school self.
Dear Younger Me,
Before I dive into the meaningful stuff, I can't wait for you to see the shoes NIKE drops in 2019. They will blow your geeky high school running mind. Just you wait, you're in for a real surprise.
But, more importantly, I'm writing this letter to give you a little guidance as you navigate this exhilarating and meaningful journey you're about to embark on. It's not always going to be easy. In fact, sometimes you'll get frustrated and other times you'll want to quit. But, always hold true to the first reason you fell in love with running - because it gives you freedom. So please, don't roll your eyes at me when I give you cheesy advice. Just listen and trust me, you'll need it.
So here it goes. Dear Younger Me, strive to be a teammate and competitor you would cheer for. Lift others up around you. Give your teammates and competitors a high-five at the end, always tell them "good job." Whether its at practice or a meet, make it your goal to contribute positively to your environment. No matter if your hurt or in the best shape of your life; it doesn't matter if you raced well or raced poorly be kind and encouraging to everyone around you. You're in it together.
There are going to be some big decisions you're going to have to make. I challenge you to not be fearful of the outcomes or what others will think. Instead, prioritize what's best for you. Be mindful that you don't have to make those decisions alone. Surround yourself with people in whom you can confide in and be transparently yourself. In times when doubt creeps in, trust the perspective and big picture of those people who know you best. You're going to make decisions that others might not understand. That's fine, because they aren't theirs to make. Be confident in yourself and know the things that work for you.
Dear Younger Me, find who you are outside of running. Cultivate the things that make you excited, that brings you happiness, and actively seek out new opportunities to challenge yourself. There are going to be times when running will have to take the back burner because of injury. Embrace these times instead of feeling sorry for yourself. These will be the times when you'll grow the most - when you find your identity. Please remember to strive to be a well-rounded person. Invent yourself, don't waste the opportunity.
Remember to always keep it fun. You're going to have your best workouts, races, and memories when you choose to relax and run free. Even when you're my age, you'll always chase the feeling of being the little girl who wanted to run fast enough to beat all the boys. There may be times when you question your motivation to compete and to keep training. Never forget that first joyful feeling running gave you. That's the reason you'll keep coming back for more.
Lastly, Dear Younger it's going to be a fun, crazy, sometimes smooth, other times bumpy road. Things are going to happen that you never could have predicted. Don't let your highs become to high, or lows become too low. You'll share the road with a collection of inspiring, creative, interesting, and supportive people. Remember, you always get to choose your own route.