Scholar-athletes: Colin Slavin worked hard, ran hard for Hawks

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BY KYLE BRENNAN
CITIZEN’S NEWS
Editor’s note: This is the first in a four-part series about the 2021-2022 CIAC scholar-athletes of the year from Naugatuck and Woodland.

Colin Slavin wasn’t surprised when he found out he was the male recipient of Woodland’s CIAC scholar-athlete award this spring. The qualifications don’t get much simpler than being the class of 2022 valedictorian and an All-State runner.
But for Slavin, the recognition was extra special because it put him on par with his role model.
“It was still an awesome accomplishment that I took a lot of pride in, especially since my sister, Emma, won the award two years prior,” said Slavin, whose sister was also an All-State runner in Woodland’s class of 2020. “I did reflect a little bit about all the time spent not only studying but also running and training to better myself as an athlete.”
Emma always set the pace for Colin, according to the younger brother, whether it was with running shoes on their feet or books in their hands.
“I started running because that’s the sport that she did, so that’s where the athletic side comes in, and then she’s actually the one that taught me how to read when I was like two years old,” Colin said. “I really couldn’t imagine being anywhere close to as successful as I’ve been without her as a role model.”
Colin enjoyed perhaps the strongest career of any male distance runner in school history. He was a two-time All-State cross country runner, earning those honors in his last two seasons. He owns numerous school records, and he was a five-time All-NVL performer across cross country and both track seasons — and that’s with having lost his sophomore outdoor track and junior indoor track seasons due to the pandemic.
Still, Slavin said he’s even prouder of his team’s success, including a pair of Naugatuck Valley League cross country titles and improvement during the track seasons.
“My freshman and senior years we won NVLs in cross country, but I’m more proud of our track team,” Slavin said. “I remember my freshman year during outdoor [track], our team’s goal was to score more points than Jakwan Hale from Derby [who now runs at the University of Tennessee], and this year we were in contention for a title in indoor and outdoor. Even though we didn’t win, it was still awesome to see our team grow together.”
Slavin was also involved in numerous extracurricular activities at Woodland, including serving as his class treasurer.
Reflecting upon his personal success in both athletics and academics, he isn’t entirely sure how he pulled off his consistently high-level performances.
“I don’t really know. I guess it was just motivation to try to be the best both in the classroom and on the track, but I don’t really know where the balance came from,” Slavin said. “I’m very good with time management and study skills, but that’s always been a mystery to me. … I think it speaks to my level of dedication to balancing school and sports.”
Slavin will attend UConn with a biomedical engineering/computer science and engineering double major, and he’s already thinking about continuing his education beyond that. Although he won’t compete for the Huskies, he said he plans on joining UConn’s club running team and may switch gears to marathoning.
The valedictorian shared some advice for the generation of Hawks who will try to follow in his fleet footsteps.
“My advice would probably be [to] enjoy every moment because it goes by fast,” Slavin said. “One bad race, game, match, or meet doesn’t define a season or a career, just like one bad grade doesn’t define your education.”