Alex Hitchcock was recently selected as the SUNY Cobleskill indoor track and field team's most valuable player.
His fast times and placings obviously had something to do with that, yet so too did the solid results he helped others put forth with his constant encouragement, training tips and example-setting ways.
"I find enjoyment in pushing other people," Hitchcock, a junior sprinter, said. "Not to be the next best thing, but the best version of themselves."
In a way, Hitchcock is following in the footsteps of his favorite basketball player, Michael Jordan, who was often seen pushing his teammates during "The Last Dance" documentary that finished airing Sunday on ESPN.
"I can relate to Michael Jordan. You want to see the best in everyone," the 21-year-old Cobleskill-Richmondville High School graduate said. "I like getting one-on-one time with my teammates so I can figure out what I can and can't do with them. Some people you can push a little harder. Some are not there yet."
That willingness and ability to lead others, and a genuine respect for every competitor, coach and official he comes by, meant Hitchcock was the perfect choice for the SUNY Cobleskill athletic department's Hugh D. Grace Award for Sportsmanship.
Sportsmanship and leadership, after all, top the list of criteria for the award that is presented annually to a Fighting Tiger male student-athlete.
“Alex embodies everything it means to be a Fighting Tiger, and he is deserving of the highest accolades," SUNY Cobleskill track and field coach Alex Macbeth said. “I am so excited for Alex to be this year’s recipient."
While the spotlight keeps finding the business major (with a sports marketing minor), he doesn't go out and seek it, and often does the little but meaningful things that few know of.
"I remember one athlete whose diet was just awful," Hitchcock said. "He ate one meal a day and was getting fatigued at practice. I would go with him and eat with him."
"He is a true leader on and off the track," Macbeth said.
Hitchcock's own track times during the indoor season included some of SUNY Cobleskill's best ever for 60 meters (7.29), 200 meters (23.31) and 400 meters (51.44), which rank No. 4, No. 5 and No. 5, respectively, on the Fighting Tigers' all-time list. His 400 performance came at the The Armory Last Chance Meet in late February, when he just missed the NCAA Division III Atlantic Region qualifying standard.
"I didn't get out of the blocks well," Hitchcock said. "I ran like my life depended on it to try to compensate."
All out is the only way Hitchcock knows, on and off the track.
"My family has always been, 'If this is what you want to do, we will support you, but you've got to work for it," Hitchcock said. "I've tried to surround myself with people who think the same way."
Hitchcock's classroom work netted a 3.30 GPA this school year, and his commitment as the track team representative and president of the SUNY Cobleskill Student-Athlete Advisory Committee has been both beneficial and noticed.
"There is no doubt that Alex holds a strong presence within the athletic department. As our SAAC representative and president, he excels at contributing and working with other team representatives with all SAAC initiatives," Macbeth said. "When I say Alex shows support for his team, it implies all Fighting Tigers at SUNY Cobleskill.
"His support for other student athletes across all SUNY Cobleskill athletic teams is unparalleled.”
"I've tried to push for some things, like making our sporting events a little more enticing. The idea is to get more fans out. I want the community to come to our games," Hitchcock said. "This is a good school."
Hitchcock added men's basketball team manager to his duties as a junior.
"I wanted to get back into basketball, and that was a way to do it," said Hitchcock, who played hoops in high school. "I'd rebound for guys. Break down film. Whatever they needed me to do."
Hitchcock said he is going to give soccer a try next fall before the indoor track and field campaign, where he'll be looking to lower his times while helping his teammates do the same.
"When I won the team MVP award I got a text from Jared Craw, who was the cross country MVP," Hitchcock said. "He wrote, 'Let's do it again next year,' and I texted him back the same thing."
Who knows? Maybe next year another Hugh D. Grace Award for Sportsmanship could be coming Hitchcock's way, too.