When he was little, Josh Morrison spent his summers playing soccer with the high school kids because he loved the sport and wanted to be successful when it was his turn to don the green and white.
But something intrigued him more than the sport itself as he grew to understand Nate Waite’s program. It didn’t have anything to do with soccer but the communication barrier that stood between him and some of the players.
Morrison didn’t know Spanish but that wasn’t going to stop him, even before he approached junior high.
“He started practicing with the soccer teams in the summer when he was in fifth grade. He kind of latched onto that and took it in junior high,” said Monte Morrison, Josh’s father. “He wanted to be able to converse with his teammates and understand what coach Nate was saying. He absolutely embraced it.”
Waite remembers when the Morrisons approached him and was already impressed with the fifth-grader’s qualities that would not only make him a good athlete but a great leader.
“Josh was always an asset on the soccer field, but one thing I think he realized was that to communicate with teammates and understand opponents better, he needed to know some Spanish,” Waite said. “Josh took to learning Spanish in the same way he competed in athletics. He was always thorough and expected excellence from himself and those around him. After studying, he was able to claim several semesters of university level credits, and definitely used that skill to aid him on the soccer field as well.”
After spending many summers with Waite’s soccer team and learning a new language, Josh Morrison became a better communicator with his teammates, making the sport even more fun to enjoy than he could possibly imagine.
Now, one year removed from his final year with the Greenwave, Morrison just completed his first year at the University of Tampa and is a few credits shy of being a junior. Although the 2012 Fallon grad couldn’t walk on to play his first love, Morrison found a home outside the classroom on the track where he ran the 800-meter and 4x400 relay for the Division II Spartans this spring.
The results didn’t match his record performances with the Greenwave when it won state two years in a row, but Morrison found out that staying competitive in the offseason will lead to better results during the spring season. Playing three sports at Fallon made Morrison a stronger runner and kept him in both physical and competitive shape. But with only one sport in college, he found out the hard way.
“I think a lot of factors went into just not getting the results I wanted such as not training as hard as I should have in the off season, working around a busy schedule for my long distance runs on the off days and at meets only running one race where as in high school I would use the early season’s meets as conditioning by running four races in an afternoon,” Morrison said.
Fallon boys track coach Steve Heck said that Morrison followed a simple recipe to his accomplishments in his young life.
“Josh has become successful from plain old hard work. He was a leader here on the team and never took a moment off,” Heck said of Morrison, who also competed on the basketball court in the winter. “He has that rare combination of being a good athlete with an incredible work ethic. When he left here, I knew he would be successful at college and life because he is willing to put in the work to be successful.”
Morrison’s college coach sees those same qualities from high school and knows what kind of runner he can be next season.
“Josh is an awesome young man. Unfortunately for us and him, he did not participate in cross country so he lost a lot of his base work for the summer and fall,” Tampa assistant coach Dror Vaknin said. “He did awesome in school as a student and ended up running 2 (minutes) flat for the 800. He could be a real good runner but he will need the base work to get there. He has great speed and with strength he can only get to be a great Division II runner.”
The classroom, however, highlighted Morrison’s first year in Tampa.
Ranked No. 3 in the CCHS class of 2012, Morrison earned community college credits and passed the Advanced Placement exams to put him at a sophomore level at Tampa. Morrison made the all-academic team in track after registering a 4.0 in the spring and he was named the most promising Spanish student in the department, not to mention that he was also inducted into the National Society of Leadership and Success.
“I’m really glad that I brought in so many credits as I’ll be a junior with credits after this year so I’m already in classes for my degree,” Morrison said. “I really want to graduate at the top of my class and I am looking forward to getting internships in the next few years to start using what I’ve learned.”
Morrison’s work ethic off the field also allowed him to focus on two majors, exercise science with an emphasis in adult fitness and Spanish, as he plans on studying abroad in the fall when he visits Barcelona.
His parents couldn’t be any more thrilled about their son’s success in only his first year away from home.
“He came home from school during Thanksgiving and said we have to talk,” Monte Morrison recalled. “He already came up with a plan for a dual major. He figured out with a dual major that he would be done in four years. We’re really proud of his accomplishments.”
Morrison, who’s the country manager and vice president of operations for Alterra Power Corp., and his wife, Amy, a homemaker and volunteer at Parkside, visited their youngest son twice during the season, including the Tom Jones Invitational at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where several of the world’s top runners competed. And it’s those types of athletes that Josh Morrison wants to be involved with when he’s done studying at Tampa.
He has many options, including coaching, training elite athletes and being an entrepreneur. He even traveled to Guatemala on a humanity mission where he helped sell bracelets and also delivered food and clothing. He ended up being one of the translators, too.
“Training more on the elite athletes would be his goal. I can see that in him,” said Monte Morrison, whose oldest son, Brett, lives in Reno and is following his father’s footsteps with geothermal energy. “He gets the nutrition and science and would want to train them and make them better. He’s fluent in Spanish now, so it’s hard to tell. He’s giving himself some options for sure.”