This story is a little different than the others. After thinking the 2016-'17 athletics season would be his last, Tyler Flannery found out he has one more year to finish what he started.
Sometimes it's funny how things have a way of working themselves out. When our plan doesn't go quite as scheduled, but suddenly, the world throws us a bone.
In those moments, we can choose to take the opportunity and run with it.
That's exactly what Tyler Flannery of the cross country and track teams did, having officially signed on for another year at Seattle U after learning he had a year of eligibility left.
“I wanted to get one more year because I have only had one solid season where I felt like everything came together,” Flannery said. “You always want one more year, but I had the opportunity to have one more and I took it.”
Flannery is the first to admit that his freshman and sophomore years at Seattle U were “garbage” performance-wise, although he redshirted the cross country season during his sophomore year.
Then, during his junior year, he developed bursitis in his hip that sat him out from November through April – the entire indoor and outdoor track seasons.
“Junior year is supposed to be your key year that you run fast, you feel good, you're mature, and I just missed that,” Flannery said. “And that year, everybody just got fast. Everybody was setting personal records. We had sophomores who were running faster times than the team has ever had before, and I was stuck in the background just like…”
Here, Flannery trails off, throwing his hands up in the air.
He said he felt like everyone around him was progressing while he was just “stagnant.” It was disappointing and made him ask questions like, “What the heck is wrong?” and “Why do I even do this?”.
As Flannery reflects on that period, he realizes now that his body just needed time to develop into a collegiate runner.
He stayed motivated by watching his teammates' times improve and by having a desire to never be the slowest on the team. He desperately wanted to develop, and, although he says he would never call it ‘patience' necessarily, he waited for his time to come.
“Yes, I wish it happened freshman year and I was able to compete competitively for a good four or five years, but hey, I have a year left,” Flannery said. “I get an entire year to do something, and for me, that's enough time. I wish my freshman and sophomore years were better, but they got me to the point I'm at today, and I'm happy that I went through a lot of those experiences.”
This year, Flannery feels like everything is finally coming together for him. And it shows with his times.
Flannery has set a personal record at every outdoor event he's competed in this season as of right before the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Championships.
“I've learned how to not only compete better with the people around me, but I've also been able to push myself a lot harder and I've just noticed a different development in my speed and endurance,” Flannery said. “For once in my college career I'm achieving a reach goal that I wanted, and I did it kind of unexpectedly.”
Also unexpected is the fact that Flannery even ended up at Seattle U in the first place. For a school he hadn't much considered early on, he ended up taking the first opportunity he got to stay for a fifth year.
Born and raised in Auburn, Wash., Flannery wanted to stay around the Western Washington area for college, and knew he wanted to run at a smaller Division I or even a DII school.
But Seattle U wasn't on his original list.
Then, he heard about the program and found out that the school offered a major of interest for him – exercise science. Plus, being a DI program, it grabbed his attention.
In a few short days, he had gone on his official visit and made his decision to become a Redhawk. He chuckled, thinking about how head coach Trisha Steidl didn't have to do much convincing.
“I didn't know anything about the school,” Flannery said. He continued, laughing, “I was just like, ‘let's try it and see what happens,' and it turned out pretty darn good.”
He knows that if he had walked on at another DI school, he wouldn't have had the opportunities he ended up getting to experience. He's grateful for that, and happy he got to enjoy his collegiate experience when all was said and done.
And he gets to keep it going for one more year.
Flannery hopes his teammates recognize the work he put in during his time at Seattle U, and why it was important for him to push himself for one more year.
He admits he might not be the fastest on the team, or set school records, or win WAC titles, but he wants people to know that he did run a lot of miles and worked hard to run the times he did. His work ethic and passion are things no one can argue.
“I want to be remembered as somebody who works their butt off every day and truly loves the sport,” Flannery said. “I'm not somebody who just runs because they're good at it. I love the sport of running. I love everything about it. I love watching it on TV, I love the professional scene, I just love the entire aspect and the lifestyle of running.”
With one more year to compete, Flannery wants to go out with a positive end to his collegiate career, leaving those first three difficult years behind him to finish on a strong last two.
He also wants to set the team up to continue a progression he's been proud to see during his time at Seattle U.
“I want people to know about SU,” Flannery said. “Even as a small, private university you don't want to be in the shadows, you want to be in the spotlight, and that's what we're trying to achieve. I think we made a great progression towards that. I think it's going to take a few more years to do that, but we're going in the right direction, and I'm excited I had the opportunity to be a part of that.”