From Carnegie Mellon University Athletics
Competing as a student-athlete at Carnegie Mellon University in a single sport for one season takes a lot of work and dedication, but for senior Nathan Cheek, a two-sport and three-season student-athlete, it has taught him hard work, dedication, and a balance that will be exceptionally important as he prepares to leave Carnegie Mellon and begin a career.
Cheek is a four-year starter at the offensive guard position for the Carnegie Mellon football team and is currently entering his fourth year of indoor and outdoor track and field. He holds the top spot in the weight throw for the men's team.
It was extremely important to Cheek to attend a university where he would be challenged in the classroom and tested on the fields as a two-sport athlete.
"I chose CMU for the balance of academic and athletic challenge and intensity," Cheek said. "I believe that balance is what sets Carnegie Mellon apart from other similar institutions."
While it is not always easy to find the balance between athletics and academics, Cheek has achieved excellence in the classroom while being able to be a successful double-sport, three-season athlete. In fact, Cheek believes that being an athlete has done nothing but positively affect his school work.
"Being in season and having practice every day forces me to make sure I manage my time well," Cheek continued. "I have to really pay attention and make sure I am on top of everything that is due and plan when I can get it all done."
With an unparalleled love for sports and a competitiveness to be reckoned with, Cheek has found success on the field and in the classroom.
"I knew I only had the chance to participate in competitive sports for a few more years, so I decided to take advantage of that," Cheek noted. "The coaches here allowed me to do multiple sports and Carnegie Mellon is well known for its engineering program."
Cheek recently finished his fourth and final chapter as a member of the Carnegie Mellon football team. He was named to the All-University Athletic Association (UAA) First Team his freshman, sophomore, and junior years at offensive guard and to the second team his senior year after missing time due to a preseason injury. In 2011 and 2012, he was named to the D3football.com All-South Region team and garnered preseason All-America honors from two organizations prior to the 2013 season.
Although his football season has come to a close, Cheek is looking forward to moving right into track practices, as he will be tossing the weight and shot put during the indoor season and the hammer, shot put, discus and javelin during the outdoor season.
"My most memorable moment at Carnegie Mellon for track is definitely winning the UAA Indoor Championship team title my junior year," Cheek reflected. "We performed really well as a team and the throwers swept the shot put for the third year in a row."
Last year during the indoor season, Cheek had a career-best throw in the shot put during the UAA Championship meet with a toss of 14.73m and a career-best weight throw while competing at Case Western, heaving the 30lb weight 16.48m. He earned All-UAA Second Team in both the shot put and weight throw. During the outdoor season, he had a career-best hammer throw with a distance of 51.55m at the Allegheny College Invite. He again finished second in the shot put and picked up a third-place finish in the hammer throw.
After ending last season on such a high note, Cheek has high expectations for himself and his teammates to begin his senior year.
"If we all work the way we should and go into the conference meets with the confidence and fire that I know we all can, then I think we have a good chance at another UAA Championship," Cheek said.
Not only are the individual teams working exceptionally hard together in practices, games, meets, and in the classroom, but Carnegie Mellon student-athletes work hard to support each other at home events.
"I think the student-athletes at CMU really support each other," Cheek continued. "Every year as a team we go to other athletic events to show them our support."
The men's track team was awarded a spirit award at one of the home football games for its continual support of the program.
Cheek not only spends time with his teammates on the field, but enjoys making time to hang out outside of practice, games, and meets. Hanging out with his friends between school work and varsity athletics is his favorite way to spend his free time.
"The men's track team gets together before every season and has a huge spaghetti dinner," Cheek explained.
Not only does Cheek know he is supported by his teammates and other student-athletes on campus, but his coaches have been a huge support system during his time at Carnegie Mellon.
"The coaches really support the student-athletes here," Cheek commented. "My coaches in both football and track have shown a genuine interest in my growth as an athlete and person."
With such support, there are two people that Cheek feels have influenced his life the most: his parents.
"My parents have set great examples of how to work hard, have self-discipline, and do the right thing," Cheek explained. "They really taught me what it is to be a good person and have good character."
After graduating in the spring of 2014, Cheek plans to take a couple weeks off before beginning a career. He is looking for a job where he will have the opportunity to take all of his skills from Carnegie Mellon and transform them into a winning career in mechanical engineering.