"I'm super excited for Zander. He had some great options and made a very good choice. Belmont is an outstanding school and is very competitive in XC so it's a great fit. His role has been very different this year. He was out with Covid and an injury and has not raced since early September. He has been great at encouraging his teammates and doing what he can to get ready!" - Coach Bailey Harris
What made you decide to commit to Belmont?
There were definitely many factors that played into choosing Belmont. Academic wise, Belmont had a great selection of Majors that I was very interested in, and they have a fairly small student per class ratio. So, it would easier to achieve the grades my coaches, future coaches, parents and myself are looking for. Athletic Wise, Belmont has really nice facilities, Coach Langdon has been there for 30 years so he is definitely knowledgeable about the sport, and the team is young. The underclassmen are running really well and I can see those guys really stepping it Next year and the year after and really take that team to the next level. For a bonus, The food selection is amazing, and it's located in the heart of Nashville!
What other type visits did you make?
I took an official visit to Charleston Southern University and an unofficial Visit to Eastern Tennessee State University.
What stood out from the visits?
With the Belmont visit, the campus stood out a lot. It was very well maintained, and the campus just looked beautiful. Also, my old boss opened a restaurant right next to the campus a few years back called Burger Up, and it's still up and running, so eating there on the visit adds to it. With the ETSU trip, the outside of the campus looks very small, but when I stepped inside of the school, I had to rethink if I was at the right place. Everything looked brand new. The dorms were my favorite out of the three other schools. Also, I seemed to bond with the team very well. With the CSU trip, School on the outside looked amazing, and I seemed to feel like I was at home, when I stepped into 'the quads' (a certain type of dorm). The team was really nice, I knew a good amount of them already, so it made it easier to make conversation.
What did you experience during each visit?
Upon arrival at Belmont, I met with Coach Langdon and another recruit, and we went into the conference room, and we just made conversation, and he talked a little about how the team does things, a little history behind Belmont. We then hung out with the team (me and the other recruit: I do not know if I'm allowed to say his name) but we ate at this Pizza place, and then went and played mini golf. The next day, we had an easy run with the team, unfortunately I had to sit out on that, but Coach Langdon bought muffins and apple juice which was delightful. After that, we spoke for a couple hours, and ate lunch at the cafe. When I say it felt like I was at a fine dining restaurant. I really mean it. The options felt endless! Once we were done eating lunch, we then took a tour of the school. I had an amazing tour guide. He did a great job explaining history about the school itself, and shared some very neat facts. This was where I was also able to determine which major fit me the best. After the tour, I met back up with the coach, and we exchanged a few words together.
Right when I left there, I went straight to ETSU. When I arrived there, It was late at night, so me and my parents slept in a motel. Was very cheap, yet the room was so big. I felt like I was living in luxury. That night we ate at a place called Smokey Bones, absolute 10/10. The baby back ribs were baller. The next morning, I met with Coach Watts, and I was able to see the guys nail a workout. After the workout I talked to a few of them, get to know them and see what it was like being part of ETSU. Once those guys wrapped up, I went with the coach and went around the campus, and once that was done, we went to 'The Dome'. Definitely one of their selling points. Such an amazing facility, was definitely something everyone needs to see at least once. Fast forward a week or so later, I arrived at CSU. Was immediately greeted by Coach Stintzi and a CSU runner (Alan Deograsis). Once we talked a little bit, my parents went off to the hotel, and the CSU guys and myself went off and played Disk Golf. Was really fun experiencing that for the first time, and after disk golf we ate dinner at a really neat pizza joint (runners cannot get enough pizza). We went back to the dorms post pizza and played smash bros and Mario Kart, then it was lights out. The next morning woke up, and talked to Coach Stinzi whilst the guys went for an easy run. After the guys finished, we ate breakfast in the cafe. After breakfast, we went to Coach Stinzi's office, and he showed us a powerpoint, some may say, The Apex of the visit. After that, we ate lunch at East Bay deli, which is an amazing restaurant. After lunch, I toured the campus, and once that campus tour was over, that was it.
What did you learn from the process?
I learned that nobody should take anything for granted. When my coach mentioned Belmont to me at first, I was really skeptical about it, because I've never heard of the school before, but I reached out to Coach Langdon, set up a visit, and I was in love with it! I've also learned that you have to be patient. You cannot rush this process. It took a lot of time and thought into, because this is somewhere I'm going to be for the next four years.
How does this feel to have this complete before the state series?
It takes a lot of pressure off my shoulders knowing I have made my decision, but it adds pressure, because I have to impress the coaching staff that is gracious enough to let me join them.
Who was part of the decision making process for you?
When deciding, I spoke with my parents and coaches about pros and cons of each school. I talked to a couple of a friends, and they all said they think Belmont seems like a better option. Along with that, picking a school that had the right major was the most important part.