Shawn Davidson, 22, sits in one of Humber’s stairways, his elbows lightly resting against his knees, still wearing his Humber gym shirt. While the second-year Humber Fitness and Health Promotion student is new to the school’s cross-country team, he isn’t new to the sport at all.
“Growing up, I did cross-country. I did track and field. I started in Grade 4 and I did that all throughout elementary school and high school as well,” Davidson said.
“Everyone else was doing a sport in Grade 4, so I just kind of tried out for every team. Running really interested me at the time, so I decided to take it up.”
As for what lead him to Humber College, his reason goes far beyond just sports.
“The Fitness and Health Promotion program allows you to transfer into the kinesiology program, so it takes you four years to get the diploma and the degree,” Davidson said.
Balancing athletics and academics, he said, is all about time management.
“Practices take up a fair bit of time. Races on the weekends take up a fair bit of time,” Davidson said. “Homework, going to classes, and I have hockey on the side as well. I wanted to work (a paying job) but I can’t. It’s just a lot of juggling and disciplined time management skills that are needed.
“I have to dedicate more time to the sport than homework right now, but definitely, moving forward it’s going to be pretty good,” he said
As far as his talent and potential goes, cross-country head coach Monique Haan said they’re significant.
“Davidson is a new athlete on our team who has a lot of raw talent and a true desire to be the best he can be,” Hann said. “With some additional coaching and race strategy planning, we coaches believe he can really improve upon his position and his personal best race time this season.”
Assistant coach Teresa Amini echoed Hann’s praise.
“Shawn has demonstrated a lot of commitment. He’s taken the steps to go above and beyond. He’s just acquired some issues with regards to his shins, but he’s been very proactive in treating that,” Amini said.
Davidson has a few pre-race rituals.
“Warming up, usually go for about a two-kilometre jog before the race, just to get your muscles warmed up. Before a race, it’s all mental. It’s all listening to music, getting your mind in the right atmosphere. When people talk to you, you just kind of tune them out. You’re right in the zone,” he said. His pre-race music selections are pretty broad but he does have some favourites.
“Rap pumps me up, Eminem pumps me up… Linkin Park, the old stuff. Motivational speeches,” he said, “I would go on YouTube and search ‘motivational speeches’.”
But while Davidson has learned a lot over the years, his first race at Humber was a new experience entirely.
“It was definitely a learning experience,” he said. “We went to McGill in Montreal. It was only a 6K run, usually they’re eight kilometres. It was just a learning experience getting the muscle memory and getting the experience under your belt, so for the next races you’re fine-tuned and ready to go.”