The reality is that most student-athletes do not go on to play professionally, so you often wonder whatever happened to the player who scored the winning goal in the national championship, or blocked the shot that would have sealed the game in the other team’s favor.
As one in a series of features about former NCAA student-athletes who went pro in something other than sports, The Division I, II and III men’s cross country champions from 1996 talk about what they learned from the college experience.
Division I – Godfrey Siamusiye, Arkansas
Then: Following two years at Blinn (Texas) College, where he won an NJCAA title in 1994, Siamusiye won back-to-back Division I titles in 1995-96, leading the Razorbacks to the team championship in 1995. He was a 10-time All-American in cross country and track at Blinn and Arkansas and a two-time Olympian (1992, 1996) for his native Zambia.
Now: Siamusiye is a business teacher, head cross country coach and assistant track coach at Shiloh Christian School in Springdale, Ark. He led the Saints cross country team to the school’s first state title, a boys crown in 2007, and followed with boys and girls championships in 2009. He and his wife Olga and 15-month-old son live in Fayetteville, Ark.
In his words: “(Running in college) laid a foundation for sure. (When coaching) you are talking from experience. I can feel their pain when they say they’re tired, and they tend to know you know what you’re talking about. It will solidify what you’re telling them.”
Division II – Alexandr Alexin, Central Missouri State (now Central Missouri)
Then: The native Russian was a four-time NCAA champion, winning track’s indoor mile in 1996 and 1997 and outdoor 1500 in 1996, in addition to the 1996 cross country title. He was inducted into the Central Missouri State Hall of Fame in 2004 and still holds school records in the indoor mile and outdoor 1500.
Now: Alexin is Senior Analyst in the Data Management department for Quintiles, Inc., which works with pharmaceutical companies all over the world. He began working as an intern in 1997 for Hoechst Marion Roussel, whose research unit was acquired by Quintles, Inc., in 1999. Alexin also returned to cross country skiing in 2008 and won the Russian National Masters in 2009 and the Masters World Cup in Falun, Sweden, in 2010. He is based in Kansas City and lives in suburban Lenexa, Kan., with his wife and 6-year-old son.
In his words: “(Being a student-athlete) is a balance of great things in life. That is my learning experience to combine things in life that are significant from different aspects. It is that balancing act which lead me to have my professional goals accomplished while still having a room left for sports which have always been a huge part of my life.”
Division III – Matt Brill, North Central (Ill.) College
Then: Brill was a three-time All-American in cross country, finishing second in 1995 and winning the 1996 title. He helped the Cardinals to the team title in 1993, when it scored a record-low 32 points, and led North Central to second-place finishes from 1994-96. He was an eight-time All-American in track, helping the Cardinals to the 1994 outdoor title, and was a two-time GTE Academic All-American.
Now: Brill works as an equity and derivatives broker for Tourmaline Partners and has worked in the derivatives business since shortly after leaving NCC. He lives in East Coventry, Pa., with his wife Maggie and two sons.
In his words: “I was fortunate to be part of Al Carius’ North Central running program, which has been successful for decades. He stressed that running was just one part of our lives, but if we could show it the focus and attention it demanded on a daily basis to be successful, we would find that success method spills over to other parts of our life. Running at the collegiate level knows no offseason, and when we were not in racing season was when we were working the hardest. We trained through rain, midwest winters, humid summers, and sickness because on race day, all that you could control is yourself, and you would need to be conditioned to outside influences and how to minimize their affect on your performance. Now that I am 36, the correlation between running and life as a father, husband, employee and citizen is much more apparant. That is why I still try to run and attain goals, but they are much more personal in scale.
“Similar to training, we have to be constantly alert and prepared because, as everyone has seen, the stock market can be extremely volatile and change happens in seconds and can be very expensive. Just as running was never too far from all the decisions that I made while decisions that I made while in college, the market is never too far from the actions that make up a typical day for me.”