What started off as a one-time deal turned into a once in a lifetime opportunity for Ferris sophomore criminal justice major Gage Cleveland.
Cleveland was asked to fill in as an extra body for Ovid Elsie’s cross-country meet just once so the team would have a full roster. Now he is a college athlete with international experience after competing as captain for the Northeast region running team sponsored by Down Under Sports that represented the United States in world competition.
“It was a blast. I got to meet kids from every state and every sized school there is. It was really awesome,” Cleveland said.
Down Under Sports reached out to Cleveland when he was a freshman, less than a year into his running career, and presented him with the offer to travel to Australia. After initially pushing the offer off to the side, Cleveland began raising money in his sophomore year of high school to fund the trip.
The 11-day trip in the summer of 2016 included nine days total in Australia and a quick two-day stop in Hawaii. The trip wasn’t all work, as Cleveland was able to explore Australia and Hawaii in depth with his fellow teammates.
“The competing was honestly the smallest part of it. It was more to open our eyes up to experience something awesome. We went to the Great Barrier Reef and swam with baby sea turtles. We also got to tour Pearl Harbor,” Cleveland said.
One of the biggest things that Cleveland took out of the trip was the opportunity to see and understand the different cultures that make up the world.
“As weird as this sounds I learned a lot about how diverse we are. It definitely opened up my eyes,” Cleveland said. “I was literally on the other side of the world. It was really awesome to see how everything worked over there and how different society was over there.”
Throughout the entire process of saving for the trip, Cleveland also had no idea he would be coming to Ferris. It wasn’t until shortly after graduation that he decided to become a Bulldog.
“If you asked me where I was going to go, Ferris wasn’t anywhere in mind. For the longest time I was going to go to Trine University. I took three tours there and even had my class schedule picked out,” Cleveland said. “Last minute, I heard about Ferris and the criminal justice program and the day after graduation, I decided I was going to Ferris.”
Cleveland is continuing his running career here at Ferris and has kept in contact with his previous coaches, but is focusing more and more on his education.
“I want to run as long as I can. It would really be cool to leave here and continue to keep running. I plan on running as long as my body lets me,” Cleveland said.