Justin Chapman | Echo
Eight thousand seven hundred and thirty one miles. That is the distance from Dunedin, New Zealand, to Upland, Indiana.
Odds are, most people at Taylor have never even stepped foot on New Zealand. Yet, senior cross country and track runner Joe Beamish calls New Zealand home.
It seems strange Beamish ended up at Taylor, but things aligned almost perfectly for him to come here and be a student-athlete. His experience at Taylor is a transformational one and from the beginning, he has felt welcomed and integrated into the Taylor community.
It all started with one of his friends back home. His friend went to Purdue as a runner and received a full ride scholarship. His friend knew of some Christian colleges in the NAIA that had great academic and athletic programs so he recommended Beamish look into attending one.
Beamish went onto a sports recruiting website to find schools that would be of interest to him, and Taylor popped up as one of the top schools.
"Taylor came up on the search across all of America," Beamish said. "It was really weird, only like six colleges came up, which looking back sounds ridiculous because there must be hundreds of colleges in the states that come under that criteria."
After finding Taylor, he reached out to the school and talked to a track coach via Skype, and Beamish felt the talk went well. Beamish sensed a calling to attend Taylor so he decided to go for it.
Beamish prepared for Taylor rapidly, as he talked to the coach in June and proceeded to come to Taylor in August. Beamish did not even receive his visa until the day before he left to come to the United States.
While this was certainly a gigantic leap for Beamish to come to the United States, he felt confident in his choice. Beamish's friends from New Zealand who went to college in the United States talked with Beamish, shared their experiences and offered him some insight.
Come August of Beamish's freshman year, everything felt exciting and new to Beamish as he arrived to Taylor.
"I didn't get any sleep after like 34 hours of flying," Beamish said. "I felt good because I was just so excited and on a buzz; everything was new. And it was definitely a big culture shock coming to Indiana in the middle of nowhere."
With no time to waste, the very next day, the men's cross country team took their annual beginning of the year trip to Michigan to bond as a team and start training.
Beamish remembers being thrilled to meet everyone on the cross country team, and he felt extremely welcomed, especially by the junior and senior class at the time.
"The cultural difference of me being from New Zealand wasn't a hinderance at all, it was more a good thing," Beamish said. "People were interested, and I'm pretty outgoing, so I like being asked a lot of questions. It always starts good conversations."
In his four years at Taylor, Beamish has loved getting quality time with his team. Beamish said traveling to Michigan and running, hanging out on the beach, playing spike ball and eating good food is a blast every year.
He also enjoys the yearly spring break trip the track teams take together. The men's and women's track teams travel to a meet together and Beamish said having the opportunity to get to know people around him in smaller groups through the trip is meaningful.
Over the years at Taylor, Beamish noticed how different the United States is from New Zealand. One difference Beamish observed is how people in the United States are very focused on one or two sports, yet in New Zealand people have the opportunity to play a multitude of sports.
"People always ask me 'Oh, what sport did you play in high school? You obviously just ran.' No, I did a ton of sports, because it's not professional at all," Beamish said. "I played cricket, tennis, soccer and I ran."
With Beamish involved in several sports, trying to compete in all of them was interesting at times.
Beamish recalls Saturdays in New Zealand where he would be playing cricket, and while he was waiting to bat, he ran to the track to race in his event and then came back to keep playing cricket.
While transitioning from five sports to two has been different, Beamish said the hardest part about running in Indiana are the surfaces he runs on. In Upland, the main places to run are on the streets on solid concrete. Back in New Zealand, Beamish could run on trails on much softer ground.
Because of the hard surfaces here in Upland, Beamish has suffered from injuries throughout his time at Taylor.
However, Beamish is thankful he chose Taylor. The track team has one more meet, the North Central College Invitational, which began yesterday and finishes today. The last meet of the season will be the NAIA Outdoor National Championships from May 24-26.
Beamish plans to stay in the United States and work in the Chicago area in a job pertaining to either accounting or sales.
"Photograph provided by TU Sports Information Department"