Tristan Cole '13
St. Helen, Calif.
Cross Country/Track & Field
It's a sunny afternoon at the Silfen Track and Field complex and senior Tristan Cole is ready to join his extended family for a run. The senior from St. Helen, Calif. has saved his best year for his last and it has not gone unnoticed by his coach and mentor, Jim Butler.
"Tristan has approached his senior year the way an athlete is supposed to approach his final year," Butler said with conviction. "He has left nothing on the table. And it's paying off for him."
Cole and his teammates on the distance medley relay team narrowly missed out on an NCAA Berth after setting a long-standing record at the All-New England Championship in February. Earlier this month, Cole and his teammates garnered All-New England Division III Honors with their sixth place finish in the 4x800 meter relay.
One of his teammates on both relay teams was senior Andrew Duarte of Rocky Hill, Conn. Duarte appreciates the winning attitude that Cole brings to practice and competition every day.
"Tristan has really done a lot for this program. He has a storied career here. He has been on numerous All-New England and record setting relays. He's just one of the go to relay guys. One of the best we've ever had."
So with so many schools on the West Coast, how did a guy from the Napa Valley land in New England.
"I was really looking for a small school and I wanted to study botany," Cole said. "I was really impressed with the academics here. I liked the feel of the school when I visited. It was something very different for me, having grown up in California. I liked the vibe. Then I got sucked into running by my coach Jim Butler. It's the greatest mistake I have made so far."
Cole's brother was a runner at Williams College so he had some familiarity with the philosophy of the New England Small College Athletic Conference that allows student-athletes to take care of their academic responsibilities first.
"Connecticut College is a great place to be a student-athlete, especially on the cross country and track and field teams," Cole said with a grin. "Our coach Butler is very accommodating to student-athletes. So if you have an academic conflict, that's never a problem. You can always be excused from practice. I have even had to miss a couple of meets for academic conflicts. That's how it goes. We 're here to go to school first and that's what's most important."
It seems to be working out great for Cole, who will be making his sixth appearance on the NESCAC All-Academic Team, when it is released later on this month.
Distance running is a year round commitment but the time spent with teammates and coaches creates an inseparable bond that Cole will always be thankful to be a part of.
"We have a great group of guys on the team," Cole said. "We're really tight. We hang out year round, obviously and we get along really well. That really helps. Especially in the winter when it's cold and its dark and you're out running. It's good to have a solid group of guys to hand out with that will always have your back. The camaraderie that I have with my teammates is what I appreciate the most from this experience as a student-athlete at this great College
As for his future, Cole is entertaining offers from as far away as South America. He studied away for a semester in Ecuador and recently returned during winter break with the assistance of a Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts (CISLA) Scholarship.
But Cole's athletic career is not over yet. He'll be competing in the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championship at Springfield College this weekend before he makes his final run to the main stage Sunday to receive his diploma.