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Senior’s track and field leadership earns NAIA distinction

Athletics Mar 22, 2024
Two men with an award certificate

KOKOMO, Ind. — As Julian Wallace begins his final season on the Indiana University Kokomo track and field team, he hopes to be remembered for more than his school records and national finals finishes.

He wants his teammates and coaches to recall that he led by example.

His leadership recently earned recognition at the NAIA men’s indoor track and field national championships, where he was honored as a Champion of Character.

“For me personally, being a Champion of Character means bringing my best attitude and best work ethic every single day and trying to inspire my teammates to follow in my footsteps,” said Wallace, from Kokomo. “I want to show the next generation of youth that you always try to do your best. You may not get the result you want, but you can know that you gave it your all.”

Coach Josh Colvin said Wallace personifies the NAIA core values of integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship, and servant leadership.

“Julian epitomizes the true characteristics of what a Champion of Character represents,” Colvin said. “We made him captain after the first semester of his first year on the team. He leads by example, leads vocally, lifts his teammates up, and holds them accountable. The biggest key to this distinction is that others respect you in that leadership role. Julian gets that respect naturally, but he also demands it through his actions and words.

“He is a true leader and will go on to do great things after college.”

Wallace was among Champion of Character award winners who led a children’s running clinic at the recent indoor national championships in Brookings, South Dakota. As a future teacher and coach, he enjoyed the experience.

“I love working with kids and teaching them new things, and showing them that no matter what they do, they can always try something new, and they never know if they might be good at it until they try,” he said. “They all were super competitive and had so much spirit. Our goal was to recognize that and encourage them to keep that going.”

He was impressive on the track as well, finishing the 600m run in 1:20:61 to finish in 13th place, and setting a new school record by half a second. He entered the event ranked 24th of 29 competitors.

“It was a great experience,” he said.

Wallace joined the track team as a transfer student, and as a former state track and field finalist at Kokomo High School, said it was a natural fit. After completing his degree in history and political science in May, he wants to complete IU Kokomo’s Transition to Teaching program to become a high school teacher and track coach. He gained experience during the fall semester as a coach at Taylor High School in Kokomo.

He looks forward to his final outdoor season, with a goal of making all-conference again and qualifying for the national championships.

“I want to leave a lasting impression that the team will remember, and the conference, and hopefully the country,” he said.

He hopes to inspire the leaders he will leave behind after graduation.

“Our team is a little family,” he said. “I have a couple of guys who have taken after me with their work ethic and leadership style. They see the success I’ve had, and they want to emulate that and pass that on.

“After this year I will be gone, and they are the leaders,” he added. “Hopefully they can carry what I’ve done into the future and inspire the next class of runners here.”

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.

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