Running for the Longhorns was the same and different at the same time.
The great thing about running is it is universal. No matter what team you’re on, everyone is working hard, trying to get better. Of course there is the team component but for each runner there is always the personal struggle and that is the same no matter what jersey is on your chest.
Dropping into a team mid-season is a bit strange. I was only at UT for one semester in the spring of 1997. The coach who had recruited me left right before I got there so I had a different coach, a new team and I was only around for five months. Not ideal, but I enjoyed it. It wasn’t the same as at Yale, but there was camaraderie amongst the guys on the team and they accepted me.
Some things were different. The perks were a lot nicer at UT. Free powerbars. If you wanted them, you had access to special tutors. Clearly a few of the guys did not really care about academics. Not everyone at Yale was a stellar student, but I didn’t know anyone who did not care at all. They’d wash your practice clothes every day (although I hear they do that at Ivy schools if you use the lockerroom). The meal money was a lot, lot more than at Yale. It never occurred to me at Yale that other schools might get more meal money. At UT however, athletes could do quite well on the days of meets and also if they had to stay in their apartments for NCAAs, etc. UT had a guy who just came and filmed the meets.
Personally, my running was about the same. I felt like I could do a lot better and that I still did not have the breakthrough I though was possible.
This story was written by Johnson in 2010 as part of a larger story on Wandering Ivies.