Hard Work And Patience Pay Off For Long Jumper Eric Fattig

June 7, 2010

LAWRENCE, Kan. –

All the pieces to the puzzle are finally falling into place for Kansas track and field long jumper, Eric Fattig. Ever since the Big 12 Outdoor Championships, Fattig has soared to new heights in his career and for the first time qualified for the NCAA National Championships in Eugene, Ore. to be held from June 9-12.

“I am pretty happy that I qualified,” Fattig said. “It was my goal since last year. I felt like all my coaches thought I could do it, and my confidence has been going up this year. I thought I could make it and then I about didn’t and then I did. Hopefully I don’t just make it, but do something there (NCAA Championships).”

Fattig is referring to the fact that he was the last athlete to advance into the finals at the NCAA Championship West Preliminaries as he posted a mark of 7.40 meters (24-03.50 ft.) in the prelims.

Once the finals began, Fattig secured his spot to the NCAA Championships with a little more ease. Fattig improved his jump in the finals with a mark of 7.56 meters (24-09.75 ft.), which was good enough for him to move up to 10th place and advance.

No matter where he qualified Fattig is looking forward to the NCAA Championships and is excited to prove himself there and so is KU assistant track and field coach-horizontal jumps, Wayne Pate.

“I am extremely excited for him,” Coach Pate said. “For the circumstances that he has been in and for how hard he has worked just proves that hard work will prevail. I know how he has worked to get this far and all his chips have just fallen into place. He deserves it.”

“I try to do the best I can at everything I do,” Fattig said. “It has been getting me by all right.”

Even though Fattig wasn’t as successful in the past four years as he has been this season, he views those years as necessary building blocks that have landed him at his ultimate goal.

“The other years weren’t all bad,” Fattig said. “The past years have set everything up for this year. Things that I improved on earlier didn’t really show up in the results until this year, but now everything has just clicked.”

Fattig started his career at the University of Kansas as a track and field walk-on from Kearney, Neb. He described his first year on the track team as, “kind of a struggle,” and then his sophomore year Fattig competed in the triple jump.

Everything changed for Fattig his junior year when Coach Pate, started training him in the long jump. Fattig finally hit his learning curve and started seeing more success.

“Coach Pate is a really good coach,” Fattig said. “I worked pretty hard the last couple years. Technically and physically things came together this year.”

“The kid busts his butt,” Coach Pate said. “He trains extremely hard. He is one of the hardest working kids I have ever worked with. That says a lot about him. I have had athletes that have made the Olympic team that haven’t worked as hard as he has. It has taken him five years to get to where he is at, but he has never quit or faltered. He kept his nose to the grind stone.”

Along with his track accomplishments Fattig also exceeds expectations in the classroom.

Fattig has maintained a 4.0 grade point average as an engineering major and is currently working on his masters in aerospace engineering, all the while sustaining his perfect GPA.

Fattig is very humble and described the balance between school and track as something that was necessary.

“I just did the best I could in both,” Fattig said. “I really didn’t have to do anything crazy. School was really time-consuming, but I still had time to hang out with friends. I just got everything else done first and worried about my free time later.”

His hard work on and off the field has paid off as Fattig was named to The CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District First Team on June 3 for the second time in his career. Fattig is also a four-time member of the Academic All-Big 12 First Team.

Even though Fattig is nearing the end his KU track and field career, he hopes to stay involved in the track world and encourages other student-athletes to keep working hard.

“This is probably clich√©, but for me hard work really paid off,” Fattig said. “You have to be patient though because it won’t necessarily pay off when you want it to, but eventually it always does.”

Fattig will train in Lawrence with his KU teammates and will complete the final piece of his puzzle when he competes at the NCAA Division 1 Outdoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday June 12 at the University of Oregon’s historic Hayward Field.

Check KUathletics.com for meet results and updates about Fattig and other KU track and field athletes.