April 28, 2014
By Tayler Turner ’14
Notre Dame is considered to be a great university worldwide, but for the natives of South Bend who center their lives on the events of the campus, it’s something much more. Seasons become defined by Notre Dame sporting events rather than the weather, and families and high school students alike flock to campus for speeches, tours, camps, plays and sporting events.
Born and raised in South Bend, senior track runner Jarrod Buchanon aspired to go to Notre Dame his whole life. He saw it as the ultimate goal and a pinnacle of athletic and academic perfection.
“Being from the city, it was one of those dreams for me to go to Notre Dame,” he explains. “A lot of children from South Bend want to grow up and go to the university that’s just down the street, and I also knew that I would be achieving the opportunity of a lifetime academically to go to Notre Dame.”
The proximity to his home also contributed to Buchanon’s desire to attend the Notre Dame. His family had provided a huge support system for him through his high school years, and he was eager to remain close to them through college.
“Being close to family is really important to me, and I knew I’d have that advantage at Notre Dame.” Buchanon says. “They are my support system.”
All of these combined elements made Notre Dame the perfect atmosphere for Buchanon, but he knew that it would not be easy to get into Notre Dame, rated one of the best academic universities year in and year out. Because of this, the South Bend native worked extremely hard all throughout his years at Clay High School in hopes of achieving his dream of attending Notre Dame.
The hard work did not stop there. Once Buchanon gained admittance to Notre Dame, he carried this work ethic through all four years of his college experience. While enrolled as a student, he has worked to keep his grades high, kept a campus job in the transportation office and been involved in a Division-I sport.
“It was hard to keep everything balanced because I had a lot of things overlapping at once, but I made it work because I was able to keep the right mentality,” he explains. “I had to learn to stay motivated and to do things even when I wasn’t forced to do them because that’s the only way to be successful.”
One thing that helped Buchanon keep a positive outlook was the support of his family along the way. The athlete explains how his family was a positive driving force for success, especially in the athletic sphere.
“We have a few indoor home meets every year, and I always have a ton of family members that will come,” Buchanon says. “A lot of my teammates are from the South or places further away and they don’t get to see their families as much, but I’m definitely grateful that my family gets to come to all of my home meets and cheer me on.
“When I’m at the meets, I run for myself, my coach, my teammates and then I get to have my family there watching me. All of that together creates such an adrenaline rush, and it helps me perform much better than if my family wasn’t there.”
Despite all of the things on his plate, the track athlete has enjoyed his experience at Notre Dame and wouldn’t trade it for the world. Although his collegiate career has been slightly different than expected, Buchanon has loved every second of it.
“I came from a public school, so it is a little different than what I was used to,” he laughs. “But I think college is pretty much what you make it, and I think I’ve made the most of my experience at Notre Dame. It’s everything I would have liked it to be. I’m very happy here and happy with my experience here.”
Not only has Buchanon enjoyed his experience, but he has impacted the university in a very positive way as well. Everyone loves Buchanon, and he is described by his coaches as having one of the loudest laughs on the team.
“I have this mentality to not be too serious,” Buchanon explains. “I just want to make sure everyone has a good day and a good practice. I just want to put a smile on someone’s face and as long as I do that then I’m fine. I try to keep the teams spirits alive whether we are away or at home.
“The coaches always tell me ‘Buchanon, quiet down for three seconds,'” he jokes. “Usually I can do three seconds but anything longer than that is pushing it.”
The senior plans to carry this positive attitude and joking mentality through the remainder of his senior season. Last year, Buchanon and the rest of the 4×400 meter relay made it to the national championship and received honorable mention All-America for their performance.
“I really want to get to the national championships again,” he says. “Last year, I was able to go as a part of the relay, and I would like to do that again this year. I also want to go individually just to give myself that confidence that I was also able to do it on my own.”
He is well on his way. At the Indoor NCAA Championships earlier this semester, he was part of the men’s 4x400m relay team that placed eighth, making them All-Americans. And just over a week ago at the Outdoor ACC Championships, Buchanon finished third in the men’s 400m hurdles, earning him All-ACC honors. As the Outdoor NCAAs approach, Buchanon knows that he will approach his goals as he always has-with a good attitude and a determination to put the work in.