Features

Tim Sipe: running away from the competition

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If you happened to be at an Adams Central High School track meet in 2010, you might have been impressed by what you saw. A small, muscular runner is participating in the 800 meter and he has been behind the whole race. Then, at the end, something sparks. He turns on the afterburners and blows everyone away. That runner’s name is Timothy Sipe but most people just call him Tim. Now a junior at Bethel College, Sipe has come a long way to get to where he is now.
Tim Sipe is a junior track athlete at Bethel College.
Sipe comes from a family of eight and lived most of his life in the small town of Berne, Ind. He enjoyed growing up in the laid-back atmosphere because of the relationships he made. “Everybody knows everybody,” Sipe said. “It was a great community atmosphere.” In the easygoing life of rural Indiana, one thing brings the whole community together: high school sports. And Sipe loved every sport he tried. “I played baseball first and I really liked it,” Sipe said. “But I played basketball too. I actually didn’t run track until my senior year.” His mom only allowed him to play one sport growing up. In middle school, that sport was baseball. Sipe was a centerfielder and he loved the game. But at the age of 12, things changed. That was the year his parents divorced. It obviously hurt him, but Sipe found out the small town community was there for him once again. “It probably was not as traumatic for me as for most kids,” Sipe said. “A lot of people in my church really helped and some of the men stepped up as father figures.” But his dad had been a major reason that Sipe wanted to play baseball. With his dad out of the picture, Sipe looked elsewhere for an outlet. That outlet came on the hard court as basketball became Sipe’s sport of choice. You may be noticing a trend at this point – Sipe loves sports. In talking with him, the conversation always comes back to sports somehow. His face would light up anytime I asked him about his high school sports memories. In basketball, he may not have been the star but he gave everything he had. “I was the guy who worked hard on (defense) and I was a three-point specialist,” Sipe said. He played for a couple years and really enjoyed it. Then came another change as his family moved to Monroe, Ind. – even smaller than Berne with just 800 people. Monroe was one town over from Berne, so it wasn’t much of a move and he was still able to attend the same high school. However, it did bring about some changes. In his senior year, his mom decided to let him try whatever sport he wanted. He knew he couldn’t pick up a sport like football in just one year. So he decided to use his speed and try track and field. “Track is a pretty easy sport to pick up,” Sipe said. This proved to be a life-changing decision. Throughout his senior year of high school, Sipe kept improving and became a track star. He was known for coasting through races early, falling behind, and then blowing away the competition at the end. He was on a different level than the other runners. “In high school I was pretty much just doing it for fun,” Sipe said. So now he had to choose where he would go to college, and track was a big part of the decision. It all came down to two schools: Huntington University and Bethel College. Huntington was close to home and they had given him a bigger scholarship offer. He also really liked the campus. In fact, he liked Huntington better than Bethel. But Huntington was going to make him run cross country, something Sipe did not want to do. But he ended up running cross country at Bethel anyways. So why did he choose Bethel? “I really don’t know,” Sipe said. After starting track in his senior year of high school, he found himself on a college track team. But he noticed some stark contrasts between high school and college. “In college (track is) year round and it’s much more serious and competitive,” Sipe said. “In the college game, everyone was good in high school.” But, just like the back roads of Berne, Ind., the community atmosphere is what Sipe loves about the school. “Bethel has the small community atmosphere,” Sipe said. “It really has become my family…it’s basically like having a sleepover with your best friends every night.” Bethel has also given him great opportunities off the track. He was a part of the Summer Team program at Bethel where students spend the summer as camp counselors. It was a stretching experience and the first time that he had truly been on his own. This year he has also been a resident assistant in Manges Hall, something that he has really enjoyed. “I like how I get to connect with the guys, and I really like being in the leadership role,” Sipe said. That aspect of leadership is important to Sipe in other areas as well, especially in his major of criminal justice. I asked him why he chose to be a criminal justice major. “Because I like to abuse my power,” Sipe deadpanned. He laughed and then flashed his winning smile. “No, I really want to help people,” Sipe said. “I like the protector/leader role and being a police officer is a good way to do that.” Like many college students he switched majors a few times before finding his niche. He started as an accounting major but quickly found that it wasn’t for him. “I hated it,” Sipe said. So then he moved to Exercise Science. This would be right down his alley as a sports guy, right? Wrong again. “I switched (to Criminal Justice) because Anatomy kicked my butt,” Sipe said. But he feels the leadership qualities go hand in hand with Criminal Justice and he’s not going to make a change any time soon. Bethel has also affected Sipe’s faith, something that is very important to him. He grew up in a conservative church and, although he loved the people, he was ready to branch out when he came to college. “I’ve expanded and grown so much because I’ve (been able) to make my faith my own,” Sipe said. So is there any part of Bethel he doesn’t like? Throughout the entire interview, this was the one time when Sipe was at a loss for words. He was quiet for about a minute before he finally came up with an answer. “Am I allowed to say classes?” he mused. Before you write him off as just another jock, let it be known that he chuckled and quickly recanted. “Maybe the internet,” he finally answered. In any case, it’s safe to say that now he does know why he came to Bethel and he is glad he made the choice. Wherever he goes from here, don’t write the man off. If you do, he might just use his blazing speed and blow by you at the last second.
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