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The Journey from High School to University: Justyn Knight ’14 Addresses Student-Athletes

Student-athletes participating in fall athletics were recently treated to a visit from one of the most decorated track alumni in St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) history.

Justyn Knight ’14 spoke with over 300 students on the topic of transitioning from secondary to post-secondary school.

Justyn Knight speaks with SMCS student-athletes in the theatre
Paul Fitzpatrick ’95 moderates the Q&A with Justyn Knight ’14 following his presentation to SMCS student-athletes.

“It is inspiring to hear about the many obstacles Justyn overcame to get to the stage he is at in his track career,” says Dr. Daniel Lumsden ’96, Community Engagement and Learning Lead at SMCS. “Justyn is a pleasure to listen to and a role model for many of our students. He discussed a variety of topics including how SMCS prepared him for life, how he got his start in track, the ins and outs of the recruiting process, and keys to his success at university.”

A former SMCS ‘Athlete of the Year’ and OFSAA Cross Country champion, Knight climbed the track and field ladder with a great deal of perseverance after quickly realizing his potential.

“I think I developed a strong work ethic and perseverance over time,” says Knight. “My parents always instilled those qualities in me and I’ve had many moments in life at St. Mike’s that tested my perseverance and ability to work hard. This made the transition very seamless for me.”

Justyn Knight at the podium during a talk at SMCS

Knight earned several National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I offers, ultimately picking Syracuse University where he won two NCAA championships, was a world championship finalist, and was named an All-American. After graduating from Syracuse, Knight turned professional, signing on with the Reebok Boston Track Club before realizing his ultimate goal when he competed in the 5000-metre run at the Tokyo Olympics, finishing seventh.

However, it was his journey, not his accomplishments, that became the focus of his talk.

Knight enforced with the students the importance of building and utilizing the support around you.

“The process is very important, and I think often it’s forgotten. Nobody wakes up and just decides they’re going to be a NCAA champion or Olympian,” adds Knight. “Natural talent can only take you so far, but hard work and determination can almost guarantee success when it’s applied to daily life. Without the process, there would be no success. As soon as I learned to love and dedicate myself to the process, I was able to achieve success.”

Justyn Knight, SMCS alumnus, with Paul Fitzpatrick during a Q&A

As is common, the road to success for student-athletes is often met with obstacles, many of which Knight notes are opportunities to grow.

“Justyn shared the importance of going to your classes and networking with classmates and professors. He reinforced to our students that obstacles will challenge them and not everything will go their way, but how they rise from those barriers will be a true testament of who they are,” adds Lumsden.

The talk was capped off with a Q & A session that was moderated by Knight’s former teacher and coach, Paul Fitzpatrick ’95, and included questions from the students in the audience. Knight answered everything from who his mentors were to the challenges he faced while turning pro, and training for the Olympics.

To cap off his visit, Knight signed autographs for several students while touring the school and meeting several of his former teachers.

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