Reflections on Life on the Hilltop with Cross Country Senior Michael Chaplin


Ian Clennan / Hilltop Views

Chaplin competes for the Hilltoppers at a recent track meet held at Trinity University. The team will compete at meets at Rice and the University of the Incarnate Word before heading to the Lone Star conference tournament at West Texas A&M next month.

As a member of the class of 2021, Michael Chaplin will graduate from St. Edward’s University in May with a Bachelor’s degree in International Business. Chaplin has not only excelled in the classroom, but has become a key leadership figure on the Hilltoppers’ cross country team. With each passing track meet and his time on the Hilltop coming to a close, Chaplin shares some of his fondest memories by  reflecting on his collegiate journey.

St. Edward’s first came up on Chaplin’s radar back in 2017 through the university recruiting page he was using to find the right place to continue his athletics career. The four years since have culminated in Chaplin now entering the final stretch of his college career, competing in his final races for the Hilltoppers. In fact, the remaining track meets will be Chaplin’s last as an athlete altogether, as he feels he is ready to move on from the sport he has competed in for more than decade.

“Though I feel sad to move on from a sport I have been doing for the last 12 years of my life, I am excited for what is to come,” Chaplin says. “I am ready for new experiences and challenges. The idea of graduating scares me a bit, but I am also excited for the next chapter in my life and doing it with the friends I have made in both my sport and at SEU.”

Chaplin’s primary studies in business have been accompanied by minors in Economics and Spanish. He works long hours in jobs away from team commitments and school work in order to balance his life while testing his all-round capabilities.

Naturally, being a collegiate athlete can be all-consuming at times, but being part of a team of dedicated student-athletes is something Chaplin has embraced.

“One of my fondest memories of being on the team was going to New Mexico to do our pre-season training my freshman year. We were able to run at White Sands National Park and sleep in cabins, so it really helped build the bond and chemistry within the team,” he says.

Chaplin says that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has taught him to “not take anything for granted” and enjoy the remaining time he has as an athlete to the fullest. At the start of this month, the team competed at the first track meet of the year at Trinity University. It was the team’s first time running competitively in almost six months.

“Luckily, track and cross country are outdoor and noncontact, so COVID really has not affected our sport. It has only affected our races with not allowing spectators and not being able to be in the stands to see my teammates run.”

Chaplin has represented St. Edward’s over a variety of distances including 800 meters, five kilometers and eight kilometers. His preference is the shorter 400 meters, where he recorded a personal best of 55.53 as a freshman in 2018.

Chaplin and his teammates will compete in two more meets before the Lone Star conference tournament scheduled to be held at the University of the Incarnate Word and Rice University. With his four-year career as a college athlete coming to a close, Chaplin is in a position to guide those embarking on the same journey.

“My advice to incoming athletes would be to cherish every moment and take advantage of any and every opportunity that is presented to you. Be ready to come in and put in that work for both your sport and school.”