Graham ready to ‘Explore’ his future

Graham ready to ‘Explore’ his future

graham-webPhoto by Sam Bonavita

Steve Graham, senior captain of the Camden Catholic Fighting Irish track and cross-country team. The bond between Graham and his grandfather, the late Jack Brady,  was founded in their love of Notre Dame sports

CHERRY HILL — Steve Graham, a 17-year old senior at Camden Catholic High School here, began his sports career as a center-fielder on the Fighting Irish baseball team during his freshman year. But his life changed during his sophomore year whenever he ran with his baseball teammates. In training sessions he often found himself way out in front of his teammates.

“During my sophomore year, something kind of clicked inside of me,” recalls Graham. And during those long, torturous runs he asked himself why anyone would put themselves through the brutal grind of long distance running.

“I asked myself that question after my very first three-mile race, because you feel like you are going to die. But it was at that moment that the competitive edge kicked in with me.”

Graham is now the captain of the boys track team and the boys cross country team at Camden Catholic. He runs the 3.1 mile (5K) race and in track he runs the 1-mile and 2-mile events plus the 4×800 relay team. “This season I am also planning to attempt some hurdle events,” he said.

The loneliness of the long-distance runner may not be a myth during the journey of 15-miles in 90 minutes for the cross country athlete. So what actually goes through the mind of such a person?

“I try to tune-out the world. I will say my prayers while on the long runs, but I will also sing a few alternative rock songs. At times my teammates run along side of me during practice sessions and we will game plan during the run,” Graham said. “I admit there are some moments of loneliness at various points of a race, but I keep pushing myself.”

This past off-season, Graham and some of his squad joined thousands of New Jersey runners at the Winter Track Indoor facility in Toms River. From December to February more than 100 high schools participated in the trainings and meets. “Training indoors or just running by myself during the short off-season was fine, but the winter track experience keeps us better prepared going into the spring competition, “he noted..

Most of his training consists of running 70 miles per week. Some weeks it may be just low mileage runs, but at a faster pace.

So what drives this intelligent young man to succeed?

“My parents (Steve and Patti Graham) taught me the values to live by. I love my parents and they raised me to have faith in God along with a solid work ethic,” Graham said.

And one of the most important influences in Graham’s young life was his grandfather, Jack Brady, who recently passed away at age 78.

“Losing my grandfather was the defining moment in my life. His passing changed the way I look at people. I appreciate life more. It was hard to see him go. I know now that you have to be thankful for every moment you spend with someone.”

The duo spent more time together than apart since Graham was a toddler. “He was always at my sporting events.” Brady converted Graham into a  Notre Dame fan. They visited the Indiana campus that Graham was planning to attend, but because a communications major was not offered, Graham has decided to attend LaSalle University in Philadelphia, and will become an Explorer this autumn.

After college, his career goal is to work as a News anchor on a major TV network, and he is now practicing on the Camden Catholic TV station.

It is not all sports and TV news for Graham. Deep inside he is still a teenager who loves alternative rock from groups like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Imagine Dragons. He even listens to his dad’s favorite artists like Led Zeppelin and Peter Gabriel.

His “Must see TV” includes The Walking Dead (AMC), The Vikings (History Channel) and ESPN. Graham’s favorite movies are the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars trilogies.

Prior to high school, Graham was a football quarterback and also played ice hockey, but there is one sport that raised his emotions during the interview. “I consider golf to be the toughest of all sports,” he said. I played 18-holes a few times with my dad, and that sport is just impossible. Golf is the most frustrating sport of all.”

“Steve has been playing sports since he was 4 years old,” says his mother Patti. “But the thing that impressed me at my first Camden Catholic cross country meet was the determination of each of the athletes to finish that race. Not only that, but the sense of sportsmanship from each of their competitors.”

The family belongs to Infant Jesus Parish in Woodbury Heights.



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