My friend CeCe: the story of overcoming adversity
Earlier this year, one of my best friends from college and college teammate, CeCe, got a lot of attention in the news and especially on social media, after Donald Trump Jr., the son of President Donald Trump tweeted very mean things about her.
Trump Jr. sent out tweets, ultimately accusing her of being a cheater, because she made the switch from being apart of the Men’s Track and Field program to the Women’s team.
But what Trump Jr. and the other ignorant people who made comments on the social media site doesn’t understand is that CeCe is apart of a large group of Americans who were born with biological traits that are opposite of what they identify as.
For CeCe making the decision to identify as a woman isn’t something that she decided on overnight.
For many years, even before I met her more than four years ago, she has wanted to identify as a woman, but because of the stigma around transgender people and other gender identities, she felt trapped.
CeCe and I would have many conversations about this as our friendship grew stronger and the more I learned about the topic.
For CeCe, she has been blessed to go to a college where the majority of the campus is very supportive of her from the groundskeepers, to the students, to faculty and staff and even the president of the University. For me, I think one of the most remarkable things was how supportive of CeCe one of our Presidents was, a man who served as the right hand man for one of the most conservative presidents in recent history. That man was Andy Card, former chief of staff for President George W. Bush and while he was the president of the college, his wife and him were two of CeCe’s biggest fans.
But for CeCe though not everyone on campus was a big supporter of her.
I remember when she first came to the university as a freshman in the fall of 2014, people were very critical of the way she lived her life.
At the time, she went by her birth name of Craig, and some people felt uncomfortable when she would use the girls restroom or do other things that made her feel more comfortable in her own skin.
For four years in college, CeCe struggled with the ups and downs of being a college student. Although she was getting more and more respect for who she was and was able to change her name to CeCe, she still always felt like she would have one big obstacle when it comes to sports and that was being able to compete on the women’s track and field team. Nonetheless, CeCe always competed at the highest levels in the men’s hurdle races and other track events.
This year, as a fifth year student, CeCe was able to compete on the women’s track and field team.
The main thing that athletes need to follow if they want to make this transition is suppress testosterone for one year before competing.
Despite the NCAA having very clear rules about this and CeCe following all the rules, many extreme right wing publications began writing quite frankly what I see as ignorant stories about her and making notions that anyone who is trans and wants to compete in the gender they identify as should just not do so because if they do they are cheating.
That’s what prompted Trump Jr.’s attention as he then began tweeting about it and making it very well known his stance on what he thinks about trans people and anyone who isn’t traditional, as if we still live in the 1800s.
Nonetheless, CeCe went out this past weekend and did what no other Franklin Pierce University student athlete has ever done. CeCe won the NCAA D2 400 Meter Hurdle Championship making her the first student athlete in Franklin Pierce history to win an individual title in any sport.
While I was in college, I competed with some of the best and fastest athletes in the world, but at the end of the day, no one did what CeCe was able to accomplish in the seven year history of the track and field program.
For CeCe to be able to become a National Champion it also meant that she had to face a ton of adversity in the sport.
Although my college track and field program has had top 25 teams basically every year, the team still doesn’t have its own outdoor track and is forced to practice seven miles away at a high school track, meaning that oftentimes practices would be before 7 a.m.
The team also doesn’t have a true indoor track either meaning that a lot of the practices was done on turfs inside the practice facility making practices very difficult.
But that adversity didn’t let it phase CeCe as she even faced very tough conditions down in Texas which is much different than in New Hampshire.
Head track and field coach Zach Emerson said it best in a Franklin Pierce Athletics Meet recap.
"It was tough conditions out here with the wind and the heat over the last three days but, as she has over the last six months, CeCe proved herself to be tough enough to handle it," said Emerson. "Today was a microcosm of her entire season; she was not going to let anything slow her down. I've never met anybody as strong as her mentally in my entire life."
CeCe has a heart of gold and is one of the most talented and genuine people I have ever met. Whether it’s being chosen to sing the National Anthem at big sporting events time in and time out or having a way to make anyone feel important, CeCe is the real deal!
One day, when we look back in history, CeCe is going to be known as a pioneer in collegiate athletics and known as someone who stood up to adversity head on.
CeCe is someone who everyone can take a lesson from, as she can teach us all how to deal with difficult decisions and adversity.
And, most importantly, I am glad that she is my friend!