Welcome to Behind the G! This is a Georgia Way platform that shares student-athlete stories, hobbies, and what is important to them. To the world, student-athletes are viewed by their outcomes in their sports, but they are so much more than that. Our goal is to share with the world in their own words who they are as people, and the numerous ways they represent the G on and off the field.
Hi all! I’m Nicholas Yanek, a third-year senior on the track & field/cross country teams! I also serve as Co-President for our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), team captain of athletics’ Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) Program, operations chair for the Student Alumni Council (SAC), researcher in the kinesiology department under Dr. McCully, peer mentor in the Honors Program, & I’m a member of the Dean William Tate, Blue Key, & Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) Honor Societies. It’s been quite a busy 3 years, but I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world! I remember jumping in freshman year because there were so many opportunities UGA offered. I don’t know how many (or few) moments I’ve had to simply sit, but staying busy has expanded my circle of friends and helped me grow throughout my time here. 🙂
A lot of people ask what drives me to be so involved. Since high school (& even junior high), I’ve stayed active in school. I think that stems from seeing my parents and my sister work so hard to achieve everything they have accomplished. My parents never pressured me into doing anything, except participate in sports, all of which went very poorly (until I stuck with running, haha). I remember flag football…I just pulled random flags off whether the player had the ball or not. Then there was soccer…where I would just pick grass during the game. Then there was basketball…which I literally just jumped over the lines on the court. As you can tell, sports were not my thing. However, my parents yet again made me join something when I started 7thgrade, so I chose cross country because that’s what my sister did. She was (& still is) very fast, so when I ran 19:34 in the two-mile time trial, everyone was a bit surprised that I was not. However, I stuck with it, because my sister is my biggest role model. Just seeing her positive attitude on everything & the grit she has in getting through literally any obstacle kept me going, and still does to this day.
Another reason I’m so active is that I felt the need to overcome the stereotype of “just being an athlete,” but we’re really more than that! Athletes are some of the most dedicated, determined, & passionate people I know on campus, even though others may think we just live and breathe sports. I wanted to prove that I could succeed outside athletics too. This helped me find different opportunities on campus that I wouldn’t have pursued otherwise & I absolutely love being involved across campus! I’ve met some of the funniest, smartest, and most passionate people through all these other organizations. Some of them are presidents of other clubs at UGA, some have volunteered internationally or studied abroad, and others have even started their own non-profits and created other community initiatives within Athens! They’re my inspiration to keep grinding through the busy times, because creating meaningful change requires it! I’ve learned that sometimes it feels like life throws obstacles in the way of our plans, but those barriers have also helped me find another amazing path that I wouldn’t have considered otherwise.
This was how I ended up deciding to pursue the two-year MBA at Notre Dame in the fall! After unexpectedly graduating early, I was faced with a unique opportunity to pursue an MBA before med school. I hope to one day open my own sports medicine facility that includes all aspects of sports medicine like nutrition, sports psych/behavioral medicine, surgery, rehab, etc., so it can be a one-stop shop for athletes. After the incredible experience I’ve had within UGA Athletics, I see the value in having all things medical right there! I would not be able to do anything here without the help of our amazing sports med staff because they always keep me physically & mentally healthy and ready to roll through each day! Even though my time was shorter than I expected, I will forever be a Bulldog and rep the “G” with pride!
And, as always, GO DAWGS!
Nicholas Yanek – UGA Track & Field and Cross Country