Liam Mather primarily came to Colorado State University to run track, but his plans changed when he fractured multiple bones in his foot and barely competed in 2019.
Then, the coronavirus stole the 2020 season away from him.
Disappointed and low-spirited, Mather decided to reprioritize his goals and embrace opportunities within the College of Business. Now, he’s preparing to graduate with a Mountain West First Team title and true academic success thanks to the first-generation business community.
“I like to think that I’m really resilient, so when I set a goal there’s no way I’m giving it up,” he said.
Mather moved from his hometown London, Ontario in Canada to Colorado to join the Colorado State University track team in 2019. The change from home to Colorado was intense. He had to change his entire schedule and step out of his comfort zone.
The beginning of his track career
Mather’s track passion began when he was 8 years old watching the Summer Olympics. He specifically remembers watching the hurdle event, which is now his specialty. The athletes’ talent and grace in a challenging sport shocked him.
“I just knew that I wanted to be there one day, that I want to stand up at the Olympic Games on that line like all those talented men did,” he said.
Soon after, he joined the track club in his hometown of London, Ontario and eventually became a two-time National Champion. His accomplishments paved the way for him to become a member of the CSU track team.
With injury and quarantine, Mather’s track career took many unexpected turns in college, but through it all, he stayed motivated. He attended the University of Iowa his freshman year, but the fit wasn’t right. He visited Fort Collins in 2019, and after touring campus, he cancelled his other campus visits. He fell in love with the storied buildings and green spaces. It felt like home. Now that he’s been here a few years, Mather says CSU is the perfect fit for him.
A foot injury prevented him from competing his freshman year at the University of Iowa. He transferred to CSU with high hopes and ready to continue his track career, but he was injured again.
“The thing that separates athletes from people that don’t do sports is that you have to be able to put yourself through physical pain almost on the daily basis,” Mather said. “But I feel like I lost a really big portion of my college athletic career through that injury.”
After giving his foot the time to heal again, he was eager to get back to competing. Then the pandemic struck, and he lost his indoor season to quarantine. This was not the way he envisioned his college track career.
“I have to come to terms with being a senior and not doing all the things that I wish I had gotten to do with a normal athletic career in college,” Mather said.
Growing through academics
Although his athletic career took unforeseen turns, Mather focused on situations he could control to grow personally, academically and professionally at the College of Business.
“I’ve really developed a lot as a person when it comes to how I view studies,” he said. “I used to only prioritize track and I went to college with track-mind, thinking, ‘I’m only here because I’m running track,’ and so I didn’t take it seriously.”
When track stopped going according to plan, Mather prioritized his academics and explored the opportunities available within the College.
“I started realizing the opportunities that I could get involved with, like the First-Generation Business Association and other clubs and groups within the university,” he explained. “It started to really open my eyes to what the future holds.”
As the first member of his family to pursue a four-year bachelor’s degree, Mather joined the First-Generation Business Association in December 2020. He now serves as the CEO for the student organization.
“The First-Generation Business Association has opened a whole new world of support throughout my education and given me an opportunity to help other first-generation students,” Mather said. “It has helped me find peers that have the same struggles and experiences that I did.”
He plans to continue his academic career in pursuit of a master’s degree in international relations after graduation.
The First-Generation Business Association is a student organization that builds community and connections for first-generation business majors, supporting their academic needs and providing opportunities for professional growth. The organization provides workshops and events to support students and make sure they have the tools they need to succeed.
While juggling school, track, clubs, and other priorities, Mather makes sure he sets goals for himself and stays organized.
“Being really routine-oriented is really important to me, not just for staying on track with school and sports and extracurriculars, but also just keeping me sane,” he explained.
As a senior, Mather sticks to the routines that he’s learned over the years to balance his goals.
“My biggest advice that I would have given myself is to not put so much pressure on myself to fill some sort of expectation,” he said. “I wish I would have just sat back, taken a deep breath and not stressed myself out more than I needed to.”