What it Took to be the Best: Curtis Beach’s story
Curtis Beach ‘09 has been an athlete all his life. Growing up in an athletic family including an aunt and three uncles who all played college sports, Beach has been around sports as long as he can remember. Starting out in soccer at age seven, he very quickly discovered his true passion: running. Beach explained to me during our zoom interview, “Coach would make me run for, like punishment. And I figured out I liked running so I got in trouble on purpose. So then eventually my dad put me in track when he saw that.” In case anyone reading is unaware, Beach would go on to win 17 individual track and field state titles for Albuquerque Academy, set the all time decathlon high school record, and was awarded the 2008-2009 Gatorade National Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year Award, which he said is the accolade he is most proud of, “I think I was the first person from New Mexico to win that national honor. And that was really great because that one was a combination of athletics, academics and community service. And so it was heavily weighted on athletics. But that one was a really big deal. And I think that was a culmination of just so much passion and commitment, and resilience and just the teamwork that went in from my coaches and teachers and other teammates.” Being a student athlete myself, talking to someone like Curtis who has been through it all was really inspiring and helpful for me. To be so dominant in your sport, all while balancing the academic workload of Albuquerque Academy is insanely impressive. I asked Curtis what piece of advice he would give an aspiring student athlete at Albuquerque Academy. “I think having a very, very clearly defined goal that’s aligned with your values and what you want, and then being able to work backwards through the process. You know, work backwards and define what needs to happen in order for you to achieve those goals and then just like, diving in, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
For Curtis, that goal was setting the high school national record for the decathlon, something he accomplished in April of his senior year with a points total of 7,909. Curtis and I also talked about perseverence and overcoming hurdles (no pun intended) in sports, “I think the hardest thing I had to work through in track was, and I’m still working through it, is accepting the end of track. It was so much of my ingrained identity and like my entire life, it’s hard to emphasize how much of an obsession Track and Field was in my life. And the only thing that was ingrained in me was just persist, persist, persist, you know, get through it. Don’t quit. There’s always a way to find a way to make it happen. And that worked really well until there had to come a point where I zoomed out and had to look at the bigger picture and decide is this really the right thing for me right now? And so the hardest part, and the biggest challenge has been letting go of that part of my life and that part of me and almost reinventing myself to use those characteristics that led me to that success and track into other things. And that’s why I’m so grateful for Academy and my other experiences outside of it, developing an identity that was bigger than sport, or bigger than any one thing. And that definitely helps with that process.”
Anyone who plays high school sports knows, the best memories aren’t the championships, or the big wins, but the time you spend with your best friends in the whole world, your teammates. For Curtis, his favorite memory from his time at Academy was, “running to Academy Hills Park and doing mile repeats. Yeah, one of the hardest workouts but like, getting through those tough workouts together and pulling each other along and being a part of that was one of the most fun experiences that I had.” Curtis’ achievements go on and on, and speaking to such a world-class athlete was such an honor. Any Academy athlete or student can easily look to Curtis’ work ethic and competitiveness for inspiration.