By Jonathan Morello, Contributing Reporter
Before his freshman year in high school, Hofstra men's cross-country captain Phillip Giackette did not know what cross-country was. Now, the sport is one of the most important aspects of Giackette's life.
His cross-country career began instantly and unplanned. While attending Martin Luther High School in Maspeth, Queens, Giackette played basketball almost every day after school. He would wait for his friend, Lequen Harper, to get out of cross country and track practice, then the two would head to the basketball court for pick-up games. "I got tired of waiting for him to get out of practice so I went with him one day," Giackette said. "We ran a mile and I happened to finish first out of everyone on the team. I ran it in 5:05. After that I continued to attend practices and established a spot on the varsity squad."
At the end of his high school career, the avid runner from Ozone Park, broke every record in track and cross-country, from the 400-meter to the half-marathon. He also helped the team reach the Private School Athletic Association (PSAA) championships in both cross-country and track as a senior, was a three-time PSAA champion in cross country, won the Independent Private Parochial School Athletic League (IPPSAL) championship race four years in a row, was named PSAA Most Outstanding Performer in track as a junior and senior, and was a member of the school's National Honor Society.
Giackette received scholarship offers from Seton Hall and Manhattan College, but felt most comfortable choosing Hofstra. "I knew since junior year of high school that Hofstra was a good fit for me," he said.
"The coaching staff and team made me feel right at home. They had my major [athletic training], the location was close enough to home but far enough away to dorm, my family liked the school, and they offered me a scholarship."
Giaackette already owns Hofstra's best times in the 3-kilometer, 5-kilometer and 8-kilometer, the distance medley, and the 400x800-meter medley and was named the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) runner of the week for the week in early September of 2008.
Giackette is vice president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, meeting two or three times a month to voice the opinion of student athletes in the Hofstra community to Annie Fiorvanti, the head of student athletics. Giackette plans to graduate in the Fall of 2011. "My dream is to run in the Olympics," he said. "Anything is possible as long as you put in the work and dedication. Another goal of mine is to one day be the head athletic trainer at major conference school such as Oregon or Stanford."
Giackette remains in contact with his high school cross-country and track coach Ken Johnson. "I wouldn't be where I am without him," Giackette said of Johnson. "He taught me everything I know about running. I consider him a close friend; we talk about everything from cross country to life in general."