by Rhonda DeLong, Published June 16, 2011
Austin Hendrix is probably getting tired of being in the media for no special reason. Well, technically there is a reason, but the reason is not the story.
Hendrix is gay, and he's an athlete. He runs track and cross country for Eastern. His major is Business.
Why does it matter that this particular athlete is gay? It's because so few LGBT athletes are open about their sexual orientation. Hopefully, someday soon, being a gay athlete will not be cause for vast media attention. But today, it still is. And Hendrix has decided to put himself on the line to be an inspiration and support for others.
Fortunately for us, he's an interesting guy. And a good storyteller.
The "non-story" started when Hendrix was asked to write an article in December 2010 for Outsports.com. Once his story was out, it got picked up. And passed along. And picked up again. So far, some version of his story has appeared in Runner's World, the Associated Press, USA Today, ESPN, the Toledo Blade, and now AnnArbor.com. Hendrix has participated in the "It Gets Better" project, a global video series dedicated to helping LGBT youth understand that the bullying and harassment they sometimes face dissipates with time, and they are able to find supportive community settings in which to live freely and authentically.
Here's an important question that hasn't been asked much in all these stories: What kind of a runner is Hendrix?
A very good one, actually. In cross country, he helped the Eagles finish first in the 2009 Titan Invitational, as well take second-place at the MAC championships. He was Most Improved on the team that year. In Track, he has run a 4:21 mile; 3:52 in the 1,500 meters; and 15:13 in the 5,000 meters. Now that's versatility. Fast versatility.
Beyond that, Hendrix is a great student. He came to EMU as a National Honor Society member. He was named Academic All-MAC in 2010.
Want to learn more? Here are some links to the media information by and about Austin Hendrix:
Outsports.com story (written by Hendrix)