Through overcoming injuries and a pandemic, Andover Boys Indoor Track and Field Co-Captain Charlie Benjamin ’23 has refined the skills needed to excel as an athlete and a leader. Entering the sport as a Junior, Benjamin had a shaky start. Like many, he was in need of an athletic commitment and found himself interested in track.
“I started Freshman Year, doing winter track because I had never run track before but I had always been interested in it. But I got hurt in, I think it was my second meet. My hip flexor was injured and I was out for the season, and then Covid happened Lower Year…” said Benjamin.
Despite early obstacles, Benjamin stuck to the sport and rejoined the track team during his upper year. He quickly became a familiar face, integrating himself into the Phillips Academy Track and Field (PATF) community.
“…Come [Upper] Year, my friend Daniel, his work ethic really inspired me and I was in need of some sort of athletics, so he convinced me to join Fall training for track and after Fall training I was ready to hop into Winter track again. After Winter track started, as an upperclassman, I felt like I had much more of a place in the community. I didn’t feel as intimidated as I did Freshman Year, and it just took off from there,” said Benjamin.
Benjamin emphasized the importance of what each individual member brings to the table in track. Particularly, the interesting people that are integrated as a part of the community are a standout.
Benjamin said, “I like how…every person has something else they bring to the table. If you’re not doing another sport at that time, a lot of people come to track and seek it, not that track is any less of a sport or less athletically rigorous. I’m not sure how to say that, but the people I meet at track, I think, in one of our captain’s meetings someone said it best, is a little microcosm of Andover itself.”
In an interview with The Phillipian, Benjamin specifically acknowledged his friend, teammate, and initial mentor, Daniel Bae for inspiring him. Benjamin credited some of his athletic success in track to Bae for urging him to try track and field.
“…in the context of track, I’d say it’s largely been Daniel [who’s inspired me]. I kind of already gave a little bit on why he was so influential to me, but track has been something that has, from that initial fall training, become part of my Andover identity. I feel like even though I’ve made it my own, I owe it to Daniel in some small part,” said Benjamin.
Benjamin seeks to embody knowledge, stability, and likability in his leadership style, shining through not only as a captain but as an athlete and team member.
“Amiability is important. I would say consistency although I have been injured a lot this season so that’s been kind of rough… As a captain, it’s your job to keep people on track. You have the answers when they don’t and even if maybe nobody has questions at one point, you have to be ready for that,” said Benjamin.
According to Jaeyong Shim ’23, Benjamin is a welcoming presence to all the new teammates. Shim noted that Benjamin always strived to get to know others on the team, even before he was captain.
Shim said, “He works with a lot of people to be that guy that knows pretty much everyone on the team. He’s been doing that since he wasn’t even a captain last year. I think he’s a really good leader for the young students. He’s very bright and welcoming to newcomers. He creates this vibe on the team that just naturally invites those newcomers and has them be excited about coming to the team.”
Track will continue through Spring Term, where Benjamin hopes to continue the sport in events he’s anticipating. As for the future, he’s unsure exactly where track will lead him.
“It remains to be seen whether I’ll do spring track or not. I’m leaning towards, or the way things are working out, I think I’ll probably be able to do spring track and I’m excited… For Spring season, doing what I have done. I’m a lot stronger of an athlete in Spring season, throwing the javelin and hurdling, so I feel like I can be more of a role model there. Beyond that, I have no idea if I’ll walk on in college or not,” said Benjamin.
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