Maya Angelou said, “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
Rise above it. Those three words have defined Andy White’s track and field career. Andy will be a senior track and field athlete this coming fall at the University of British Columbia. The opportunity to compete collegiality at UBC and the fact that both of his parents attended the university all played a part in his decision to be a Thunderbird.
Track and field was never a foreign subject to Andy, as his mother was also a track and field athlete at UBC. “What brought me to track and field was ultimately my mom’s passion for the sport.” Secondly, a trip to the Sydney Olympics in 2000 sealed the deal for Andy. “I’m pretty sure this is where I caught the Olympic Bug. This is where I first discovered javelin. I remember hearing the throwers yell when they threw and I was sitting on the opposite part of the stadium from where they were throwing. It was so cool!”
In high school Andy competed in cross country, track and field, wrestling, rugby, and mountain bike racing. As a high school track and field athlete he competed in a variety of events such as the 100m dash, the 200m dash, the long jump, and the javelin. “I loved to do different events, and I think that also attracted me to the sport.” Despite Andy’s versatility, when he arrived at UBC he had to make a decision between long jump and javelin. “I picked the event that was most fun, javelin.”
Right before Andy began his career as a varsity athlete at the collegiate level, tragedy struck. He lost his mother, Linda, to breast cancer on January 14, 2010. “At this point in my life I truly felt that I was alone, and at times it really seemed pointless doing anything if my mom wasn’t going to be around.” With much love and support from his family and friends, Andy was able to muster up the strength to rise above adversity. “I did what my mom would want for me and has always wanted for me, I followed my dreams.” That year Andy was not only nominated for Rookie of the Year at UBC, but he also finished 4th at the NAIA Championships. “I got to see that with honoring her wish for me, I would be honoring her and the loving person she was for people.”
Since 2010, Andy has made two additional trips (2011, 2013) to the NAIA championships. Unfortunately, due to yet another roadblock, those were not consecutive trips. In 2012, Andy encountered multiple ankle sprains that eventually turned into an unpleasant bone spur–an injury that required surgery to repair. Because he did not want to lose an entire year of competition to injury, he decided to red shirt. “It was definitely hard to stay away from competing, especially during a time when my training partner Curtis Moss was qualifying to compete for Canada in the Olympics.” Fortunately, Andy was able to make the best out of a less than fortunate situation. With a huge passion for photography and as a Visual Arts student at UBC, Andy was able to channel negative energy into something amazing during his red shirt season. He attended all of his team’s track meets that season and gained a new perspective on the incredible sport of track and field. He has since helped organize an annual photography show, The PRINTS Show, to raise money for an alternative cancer care organization–InspireHealth. So far he and his colleagues have raised over $6,000 in under two years. Another situation in Andy’s life where he could have given up, he again decided to rise above it.
2013 has proven to be one of Andy’s most successful track seasons so far. He received the NAIA Champions of Character Award and was ranked first going into the NAIA Championships. There he was the front runner during finals with a throw of 65.59m until his competition tossed his last javelin a little over one meter further. Although he didn’t finish with the gold, he still took an honorable silver and is more hungry than ever for his senior season. Andy competed in the Canadian Track & Field Championships in June 2013 where he threw a new personal best of 69.77m, placing 5th. Because Andy threw over the qualifying standard of 69m, he is hoping to make the Canadian team for the Francophone Games in Nice, France this September. One of Andy’s biggest dreams is to represent Canada in the Olympics. With a heart as big as his talent and his extraordinary ability to rise above whatever obstacle is in way, Andy White is most certainly on the road to success. In the mean time Andy will continue to train, study, and support his community. No doubt Andy’s mom is watching him, proud that her son is following his dreams.
Biggest #TrackProb: When people ask me, “What sport do you play?” My response, “I play javelin.”
Follow Andy White and his journey @iPlayJavelin
Are you a student athlete who has overcome roadblocks in your career that have made you stronger? Do you know an athlete who has persevered and come out a better individual? If you would like to apply for the August TrackProbs Student Athlete of the Month or nominate someone, fill out the following form. Make sure to leave a current email address and factual information (with sources that can be verified) about the athlete being nominated in the comment box. The student athlete must be in good academic AND athletic standing, be sure to provide information that confirms this.