Athlete of the Month: Mudra Patel

Sarah Shivakumar , Op-Ed Editor

Courtesy of Coach Gara. Mudra Patel, pictured above, has been part of XC team for 4 years and is also the captain of this record-breaking team.

 

Running, running, running. That is the life of a cross country runner. A life of running and morning practices is a routine that cross country runners of Wilcox can relate to. The Wilcox Cross Country has had a tremendously successful season this year. From winning 1st place in meets to making States, the boys definitely have something to be proud of. Mudra Patel, a senior and captain of the Wilcox XC team, is not shy about expressing his success! A dedicated runner, Mudra has been part of the team for all 4 years of high school and has also participated in the Track events during the spring season. When asked what his inspiration behind choosing such a strenuous sport was, he stated “For me, Coach wanted me to do XC so I can improve drastically in track so that was really my appeal, but as time went on and my training became consistent, the only thing that kept me coming back was the people.

A dedicated team member, Mudra’s efforts to the team have not gone unnoticed by fellow team members. Eva Lim, a senior and XC runner, “Mudra is super involved in cross-country as a whole and went to every single summer practice and every single covid-cohort morning practices.” Patel has shown his dedication to the team and has put out so much time and effort, in spite of taking 5 AP classes, being an officer for Wilcox clubs such as the Student Listening Team, a club that relays Chargers’ concerns to the administration. A bridge between the body of the school to the heads. “There is such a disconnect between the admins and students which is ridiculous,” he reasoned. There is no doubt that Patel has helped in bridging the very obvious gap between students and admin. Although he has expressed his frustration on unequal perception from the two sides, that does not stop him from working towards creating a more inclusive environment, where students’ opinions matter. 

An avid gamer, so much so that he has decided to pursue game design in college, Mudra’s stated that balancing cross country with his involvement at school plus his rigorous course load has not been easy. Honestly putting it, he said, “I’m burnt out by school and everything and have been since second semester last school year,” Mudra is known for this social presence, both at the campus and online. Known as the class’ insider, Patel has the tricky talent of publicizing for the cross country team and the SLT. A witty Instagram page, the XC team has gained much recognition amongst students for its continuous posts and humorous captions. But it comes as no surprise that the athlete finds it continuously difficult to balance everything and keep a stable mental health as well. “ Doing all of the activities I’m doing for various reasons are not worth sacrificing a piece of yourself.” 

Class of 2022 has had a seemingly interesting high school experience. As we all know, COVID-19 took out more than a year’s worth of quality education, school events, and of course, sports from around the world. Halting the season for around 6 months during the 2020-21 school year, XC has slowly started to ramp up the season with daily 6 a.m cohort practices, Mudra made it a promise to attend every single practice that was planned, devoting his time and energy to the sport. Patel states that this dedication is what earned him the captaincy, saying, “the coaches saw my improvements and leadership on the courses and our head coach, Van Zant, said to his daughter if anything happens to him, make sure I was made captain. This was announced in front of everyone during the awards last Monday, and many looked over it but it really touched me and validated the months of freezing and training, often alone.” Online school was not an easy journey for anyone much less a dedicated burnt-out athlete like Mudra. “People usually hit rock bottom, but second-semester burnout to me felt like Superman took me in the air, punch slammed into the ground until I was 20 miles deep underground. XC was very tough during the pandemic season but it helped me immensely during a time in which I couldn’t remember the last time I didn’t have a migraine.” Even though the pandemic had stressed and tired him out, the pandemic boosted his motivation to run because running was his escape from a closed-out and constraining reality, even if it was just for a minute. Being a senior, Patel has definitely had his share of experiences to share with the world. He states, “Don’t lose a piece of yourself just to gain a position to put on your college transcript, while I have not completely sold my soul to CollegeBoard, I have overworked myself in the last 3 years. Do what you enjoy and make you happy.” 

Mudra has led the cross-country into a historical, record-breaking, and unique season. Leading a team through a pandemic and through an odd year of masks, restrictions, and burn-out, Patel has found happiness in the little things. “I wanna leave everyone with a quote that I resonate with: “the best way to pursue happiness is to help other people. Nothing else will make you happier” (George Lucas). This is the reason I get so involved, even helping people a little bit and seeing their face light up because of something I did is the greatest joy in the world.”