We continue our Alumni Spotlight project with our first runner of the series, Greg Leak. Greg is a member of the class of 2010 and was not just a student-athlete here at Dickinson but he was also a proud and standout member of the Blue Mountain ROTC Battalion. He talked to us about how truly special his time was Wearin' The Red, being able to run with some of the best and most decorated runners in Red Devil history, as well as what it means to serve your country and why that had such a profound impact on him.
Greg grew up in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania and really started getting involved in both cross country and track & field when he got to high school. When the time came for him to select his college it took an overnight visit at Dickinson and meeting both Coach Don Nichter and the team to know this where he wanted to spend the next four years of his life.
"The academics are fantastic and the class size was perfect," Greg said. "Coach Nichter's resume is fantastic and he had built a great program to that point. Also, I wanted to serve my country and the ROTC program was fantastic so all the boxes were checked for me."
Greg was part of a class that truly helped turn the tide of Dickinson cross country and track & field as he remembered Coach Nichter telling him and his classmates, "You guys have the potential to change the culture and direction of the program." The team was on the cusp of advancing to nationals and it became clear to Greg that they could be that missing piece to finally help the Red Devils break through that wall.
The faith Coach Nichter instilled in those runners and the mentality adopted by Greg and his teammates came to fruition as the Red Devils advanced to nationals for the first time in 2007 and would go on to capture back-to-back Centennial Conference Championships in 2008 and 2009, knocking off running powerhouse Haverford College.
What truly made all of the success in cross-country course and track possible was the message hammered home time and time again to Greg and his teammates. "You have to work as a team." A simple yet powerful message as Greg recalled. "It wasn't any one individual effort. It was a collective team effort to achieve this success."
The lessons learned from Coach Nichter, both on and off the track, helped Greg in his future career as a military officer to make him the best leader he could possibly be. Being assigned to a field artillery battalion, Greg served the unit as a logistics coordinator, overseeing a maintenance platoon that was responsible for the upkeep of all the equipment. "I was a 22-year old straight out of college, who was put in charge in making sure umpteen billion dollars of equipment, from vehicles to their howitzers were taken care of and ready to deploy," Greg stated. His hard work eventually led to a promotion and taking over as the company commander to oversee all logistics for the battalion.
Since retiring from the military Greg has built his passion for running into his new career. From running professionally, which he received the opportunity to run in the Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta, Georgia this past February, to having his own podcast and coaching, Greg has kept running as a major part of his life. "I have always believed you should follow your passion," Greg said. "My passion has always been running, so I have always wanted to bring my love for running to my community."
No matter the stage or where Greg has gone in life, he still follows the one true passion, running. Whether it was putting on a Dickinson uniform, representing the United States military and running across seas in countries like Germany, or getting the opportunity to try to qualify for the Olympic team, Greg pushes himself to be the best he can be doing the sport he has always loved.
"I am who I am today because of my four years at Dickinson," Greg stated. "I am molded into the man I am and got to accomplish so many dreams because of the opportunities I got while at Dickinson."
Greg capped a great career with a Little Three individual title in 2009. He went on to earn All-America honors that year after leading the Red Devils conference championships in 2008 and 2009, snapping a 15-year reign by Haverford. He was a three-time All-Region runner and won the individual conference title in both championship seasons in 2008 and 2009. He helped the Red Devils captured conference titles in both indoor and outdoor track & field in 2010, running to a silver medal in the 10,000 meters at the outdoor championships.
Follow the link below to check out Greg's full interview with Assistant Athletic Director for Marketing & Administration Justin Farrell.