Written By: Jack Zampillo ’18
The term “mind over matter” is intriguing.
Do our minds have the ability to negate and persevere through hardships we may endure in the physical world?
For Brendan Coghlan, the answer is yes.
Coghlan, Class of 2018, exemplified the meaning of a true Crusader through dedication to his craft in and out of the classroom. Brendan graduated from Rice at the forefront of the National Honors Society, tallying a 4.64 GPA with an impressive list of extracurriculars. He was a four-year member of the basketball program, a varsity starter his junior and senior years. Brendan was actively involved in the student council, the Crusader Crazies, and attended Kairos 142.
Head coach Bobby Frasor, who led the basketball team to a regional championship Brendan’s senior year, spoke highly of what he brought to the program.
“[Brendan] was a great player,” said Frasor. “He was a lot of fun to coach, and always did what we asked of him whether it was to score, facilitate, or guard the opposing team’s best player.”
Brendan currently attends Indiana University as a finance major and is on track to graduate in the spring of 2022.
“I’ve grown so much in the past 4 years,” said Coghlan. “Indiana has been a great experience. To think of where I was as a freshman to where I am now – it’s cool. I’m excited to start pursuing a career.”
Coghlan has been a member of a business fraternity for the entirety of his time at Indiana, praising the “personal and professional growth” that it has provided him: “I wouldn’t have grown as much as I have without PGN.”
We all have a hobby that brings us to our happy place; something to distract our minds from the inevitable responsibilities of life.
For Brendan, that escape is running.
His love for the sport became apparent early on, breaking the record for the fastest mile run by a freshman in Brother Rice’s Cross Country history. Brendan was on the track team his senior year and continues to compete against himself and others.
“I’ve always had a competitive side to me,” Coghlan said. “I love running because it allows me to set goals for myself and test my will while achieving those goals.”
Not only has running helped keep Brendan in physical shape, but it has also helped him stay afloat through tough times of the pandemic: “There was a lot of anxiety that came with COVID-19 at the beginning, a lot of uncertainty. Waking up early and competing with myself sets a precedent for the day and also keeps my mind at ease.”
The competitive nature led Brendan to run his first ultramarathon this past August. While fully trained and prepared, the race did not go according to plan.
“I felt great for the first 15 or 16 miles, then on mile 17 I pulled my left hamstring. Bad.” said Brendan. “I tried putting more pressure on my right leg to compensate for the left, but before I knew it, both were in agonizing pain.”
Compromised, Brendan still had 33 miles left to complete.
“There were some really low points, man. I was in a lot of pain. I was running with tears in my eyes, questioning what I was doing… it was hard.”
Luckily, Brendan ran into his family at mile 20, who were poised to motivate him through the injuries.
“They simply reminded me of my ‘why,’” he said. “I wasn’t just doing this for myself. I had family and friends there to support me – people who believed in me.”
He persevered through the pain, taking advantage of care stations along the way. The ultramarathon was a total of 50 miles, and he ran every single foot of it. Despite the struggle, despite the doubt, against the odds, Brendan crossed the finish line. “I couldn’t move an inch without being in excruciating pain.” But, he did.
Mind over matter.
Most individuals wouldn’t have come close to finishing the race, let alone continuing after injury. Brendan’s drive and competitive nature pushed him to end. “I learned a lot about myself that day,” Coghlan said. “If you train your mind the right way, it’ll allow you to push through.”
Fortunately, he did not sustain any serious injuries and plans to compete in another ultramarathon as soon as possible.
“I know it’s crazy. I can’t really explain it,” Brian said. “I love to be challenged. I actually want to run 100 miles in 24 hours at some point.”
Brendan continues to keep tabs on the school, its athletic success, and upcoming events he can attend.
He recalled his time at Brother Rice, and said that Kairos was an eye-opening experience that he holds close to his heart to this day: “It helped me to realize that with faith, anything is possible.”
Being a student-athlete is a taxing experience, but Brendan praises the way that Rice prepares its students to succeed in the classroom and on the field.
“My teachers and coaches helped me tremendously with time management and always assured me that if I worked hard in both areas, I’d find success,” Coghlan said.
Advice you’d give to current students?
“Find ways to improve each day. When you focus on the different areas you can improve in life, you become a better version of yourself without even realizing it.”
“Every Marist game provided a memory. No matter if we won or lost, the support and energy from the Brother Rice community was unmatched. I’ll never forget the Marist gamedays.”
Moral of the story: We’re capable of more than we believe.