The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Older athletes prove that age is merely a number

“I asked the coach when I first came out, ‘Is there an AARP discount?’ He told me ‘Shut up. You’re not that old.’”

That is how Matthew McKeown describes the beginning of his cross country career at Guilford College as a Center for Continuing Education student. And he’s not the only athlete who is older than his other teammates; several CCE students participate in athletics.

These athletes chose to pursue sports for different reasons. For McKeown, it was about returning to an activity he had once loved.

“I hadn’t run in 12 years,” said McKeown. “I ran a 5k in March and finished fourth.”

After that, he began looking for a college with an adult program that would allow him to participate in cross country.

Greg Carnovale, a CCE student and a captain of the soccer team, joined with several other older students.

“We’ve had plenty of CCE students over the last couple years,” said Jeff Bateson, head coach of men’s soccer.

Bateson explained that several CCE students, specifically Jordan Alexander ’11, Sean Dwyer and Carnovale all joined the team together.

Although these athletes love what they do, juggling practices, academics, and personal lives is not always easy.

“My first couple of weeks here I didn’t think I was going to ever sleep again,” said McKeown. “I work 14 hours (on) Sunday. I come home and stay up studying until 5 a.m. and have practice at 6:15. … I sleep in the library before class.”

Danny Cash, head coach of the cross country team, also sees the difficulties that McKeown faces, such as running late to a practice because his son was sick.

Despite facing many hurdles, these athletes appreciate the opportunity to compete and be part of a team.

“I am so grateful to Coach Cash and his wife for allowing me to experience my dream of attending a four-year college and being able to run at the same time,” said McKeown.

Having CCE student benefits not only other CCE students, but their teammates as well.

“I can remember the first race of the season and I was not running my best, but Matthew was right there with the coach, cheering me on like a teammate, brother, and friend,” said junior Jodie Geddes, a member of the cross country team.

“Matt treats me like his little brother,” said first-year Yashua Clemmons. “Being that I am the only freshman on the team, he made sure I was ok during training and well-adjusted with school.”

The coaches also appreciate the presence of CCE students on their teams.

“One thing CCE students do is they not only provide leadership and maturity on the team, but also there’s a reason they’re back at college, and they can relate their stories to the other team members,” said Bateson.

There are not many CCE students who participate in athletics, but any who are interested are encouraged to do so.

“I think the more any student is engaged on campus, the better their overall educational experience, so I would like to see more CCE participation all around, not just in sports,” said Martee Holt, assistant dean of the Center for Continuing Education, in an email interview.

“I’d love to have more CCE students if they have the same dedication (as McKeown),” said Kimberly Cash, assistant coach of the cross country team.

For CCE student athletes, balancing academics, sports, and a private life is not easy, but there is a secret to success. When asked  if he would encourage other CCE students to participate in sports he said,
“Yes with a caution.

Be aware of how much time you’re going to invest. You have to have a lot of support from your family to make it possible.”

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About the Contributor
Allison DeBusk, Editor-in-Chief
English and Political Science majors,  American History minor
Allison loves coordinating all of the different parts of the newspaper and getting to see the words, photos, graphics and videos all combine to make one product. She also loves serving the Guilford community and reflecting the feelings and perspectives of our community. She always wears pink on Wednesdays.

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