Tuesday, September 30, 2014

From Ethiopia to USD, Musa sets pace

Mubarik Musa has grabbed onto a dream – a uniquely American one in this case – and is running with it at the University of South Dakota.
The Coyote cross country runner left his native Ethiopia while still in elementary school, leaving his family behind in pursuit of opportunities that were never going to come his way otherwise. He has not seen his parents in person in nearly 10 years and has several siblings he has never met.

Clearly, he has made the most of his time away.

At Worthington (Minn.) High School, Musa won state titles in cross country and track, and his success in college – in sports and the classroom – has been recognized in the form of all-Summit League running and academic honors. The junior is on pace to add many more achievements along the way.

“Coming to USD has been the greatest decision I’ve ever made in my life,” Musa said. “They took a chance on me. Coach Fitz took a chance on me.”

That would be USD cross country and assistant track coach Dan Fitzsimmons, who saw the will of a champion in Musa but has since come to know there’s a lot more to him than that. What you don’t get from reading Musa’s bio but understand completely after meeting him is his prevailing sense of gratitude for, well, everything.

His parents gave him a work ethic and an ability to adapt, his uncle engineered his move to the United States, his older brother worked 16-hour work days at the packing plant to support him, and his coaches, teachers, teammates and friends somehow are making every day a little festival.

When he looks up, there are never clouds in the sky.