The Search for Passion

by Paddy Dunne

Hours on the field with my pops gave me a mean fastball and the ability to paint the corners. Baseball was my future. “One day you're gonna be on a baseball card”, my dad would tell me. My first year at Saint Ignatius Prep, I fractured the L3 and L4 Vertebrae of my lower back playing football in the offseason. The doctor ordered six months in a torso brace. “A full recovery is impossible,” he explained. Land sports are out of the picture for at least the next few years. My lifetime competitor, teammate, and friend, Columbus Leonard, taught me a valuable lesson; when one door closes, another opens. “Bus” kindly introduced me to the sport of water polo, although growing up on a boat with my dad and brother, I was already well acquainted with the water. I made great friends, was honored with “most improved” my senior year, and discovered surfing.

In my Freshman year at Menlo College, I gave baseball another try. My back was ready for it, but my arm wasn't. After too many pitches, I got tendonitis in my elbow. One door closes, anther opens. Somehow I made my way to the soccer field where I played for the next two years. I made friends, had some fun, and learned how to pretend that I am hurt.

Seeing an ad for the Marin County Triathlon on the city bus got me to sign up. The date came up fast and before I knew it, I was standing on the beach in my Speedo surrounded by wetsuits. The awesome feeling of having my family there, pushing me forward, got me striving for more. In the last year I have competed in five International Olympic-sized triathlons including the SF Alcatraz Triathlon. At Menlo College, I founded the Menlo College Surf Club as well as the Menlo College Triathlon Club. I started the Triathlon Club because every other racer would have his or her school or club represented at the triathlon. Now I get to hear, “And in comes Paddy Dunne racing for Menlo College,” as I cross the finish line.

I'm continuing to swim and surf in between classes and running with the Cross County Team. Lots of people are absolutely amazed when I tell them I do triathlons, but I just laugh. Everyone has different things that they are good at. My cousin, Lauren Roger, gets up on stage and dances in front of hundreds of people. I could never do something like that. Everyone has his or her unique abilities. I just enjoy swimming, running, and biking. It's as simple as that. Do what you enjoy, and when it's over, find something better.