Name: Will Shine
Sports: Men’s Cross Country / Track & Field
Hometown: Pembroke Pines, Florida
Why did you choose UChicago?
I chose UChicago primarily for the strength of its anthropology department. Going into college, I had a strong interest in studying archaeology and I learned about the university’s long history in the discipline when I toured the OI campus museum my junior year of high school. After that, UChicago quickly became my number one choice and I have had many great opportunities through the department ever since.
Favorite moment of your UChicago athletic career?
My favorite moment as an athlete was running the lead 1,200-meter leg of our Distance Medley Relay at the Indoor UAA Championships in 2019. Earlier that season (and the prior one), I had struggled to find my footing coming from Florida and never having competed in indoor track before. However, Coach Hall gave me the opportunity to run the 1,200 for the first time at the conference meet and I managed to get the baton off to our next leg in first place. The relay went on to podium and it was awesome to contribute to our team’s success and score my first points at a conference meet. That race went on to give me more confidence in middle distances and the ability to run the 800 the following year much more competitively.
Favorite team tradition/activity?
Quads run, without a doubt. It’s the best way to end a hard workout and have some fun with the team while giving the rest of the campus something to laugh about.
What made you fall in love with your sport originally?
All the friends and close bonds I have made through running. Running takes a lot of commitment and the most important thing for improvement is consistency. From high school to college, the bonds you form with your teammates are so, so tight because you practice year-round and become constants in each other’s lives. Working towards goals with your closest friends makes it that much more meaningful when you achieve them.
What lessons have you learned through competing in your sport that have stuck with you?
That commitment to anything is the first (and largest) step towards success. You don’t have to be the best at something when you first start, but if you are committed to getting better, you can always improve more than you thought you could.
What advice would you give to your first-year teammates?
To focus on building bonds with your teammates and having fun with each other outside of practice. Training for distance running is repetitive by nature, but if you set goals with your teammates and care about each other’s interests outside of running, the sport never never gets old and showing up to practice will be the highlight of any day.
Favorite UChicago class that you learned the most from and why?
People’s Garbage: Introduction to Archaeology. This class was an introduction to archaeological theory but was centered on people’s waste and what gets discarded across history. The class was my first look into some very interesting corners of archaeological theory but also the practical methods of how we can know things about the past without written records. Part of the class involved us recording the garbage our apartments/dorms produced in a week and then randomizing the results among the class so that each person had to reconstruct the living situations of their unknown classmates only using what they had thrown away.
Which UChicago faculty or staff member made the greatest impact on you and why?
Coach Hall. Being part of the cross country and track teams has made my experience at UChicago so much more meaningful and given me my closest friends. None of that would be possible if we didn’t have such a positive team environment which I think Coach Hall goes a long way in creating. My teammates will be my closest friends for the rest of my life and I have to thank Coach Hall in large part for that.
Favorite place on campus?
The OI! When the campus is not in quarantine, the OI has my favorite reading room and is also home to the CAMEL Lab where I have a student job doing archaeological research. Whenever I have time between classes and practice, I head to the OI to do work or read.
Favorite thing to do in the city?
Going to the lake in the summer. Chicago’s best feature is being on Lake Michigan and when it’s not freezing, there’s no better place to be than the lake off the point.
What are your post-graduation plans?
To work for the next two or so years before returning to school to pursue a PhD in anthropology.
Outside of your current sport, which sport or activity do you feel like you would excel at the most?
I stopped swimming to run track, but would like to do it more seriously again sometime!
Favorite place you’ve visited?
Perta, Jordan with my teammate Ansel after we had completed an archaeological excavation in a nearby region.