Stephen Fedec has liked every annoying Facebook post I've shared about the Philadelphia 76ers, regardless of win or loss. This seems unimportant, but Stephen's loyalty despite outcome is an incredibly important part of who he is. For the two years, Stephen has also been a brother on the Emory Cross Country team, where he has demonstrated unwavering devotion to his friends and teammates and contributed to countless memories on and off the track.
Now, Stephen is no longer on our team, but I don't think the team (or at least myself personally) can move on without documenting his experience and contributions during his time. Throughout the past two years, Stephen can be described as nothing less than a team player and great friend, one who never took himself too seriously. Rising junior Alex Campbell and sophomore Tommy Moxham put his contributions to their lives most completely.
"Stephen has been one of my best friends since coming to Emory. He's just a great guy in general, but beyond that, he's incredibly thoughtful and nice," Tommy said.
"Stephen is one of the most committed friends that I have ever had. He is always there to check up on you and always cares about what is going on in your life," Alex said.
A rising junior studying finance with a concentration in health innovation, Stephen's greatest strength in any organization, institution, or community is in helping people keep perspective.
I remember one race at the beginning of this year, a 3000-meter run where I performed disastrously, well below my expectations, and frankly just felt terrible the rest of the day. Normally, the custom after your teammate has a terrible race is to give them space and avoid them.
But Stephen made the best out of this low point of my running career. He acknowledged that it "looked tough out there." Then, he asked me if I was alright. He proceeded to chat about the 2018 NFC Championship game, in which our underdog Eagles dominated on their path to go to the Super Bowl, and talked with me as we watched the ending of the game for the rest of the bus ride.
It was a small gesture, but a small gesture that I genuinely appreciated and helped turn my day around. Everyone else wanted to let me be and avoid an awkward conversation. I think in that moment, it says a lot to me that Stephen was able to push past that.
"He’s always down to have a good time and is always looking out for other people. I think the greatest thing about Steven is his attitude, he always finds a way to make negative situations fun and is just fun to be around," Tommy Moxham said.
"On many occasions he has approached me asking about a test or presentation that I had that day, which I didn't even know he knew about. He always made the effort to reach out and make sure everything is going alright," Alex Campbell added.
It is these little things, such as checking up with Alex Campbell after an exam, or checking me after one of the worst races of my life, that I think need recognition. Stephen Fedec truly helps people see what's really important long-term, beyond the bad grade you got on one test, or the bad time you ran at one race.
I say this with assurity: everyone can easily be your friend in your best moments, but Stephen will be with you through your worst.
Stephen wanted to thank two alumni who graduated in the spring of 2017, Jake Schlessinger and Casey Rhode, for helping him realize what was truly important in college and in life. Casey, especially, was a friend who not only guided him through career advice in the business school, but also a friend who taught many life lessons.
Both Casey and Jake helped Stephen feel a part of the team and family, even though he was a freshman when they were seniors. Welcoming him with open arms, their apartment was always open to him whenever he wanted to come and just hang out. On multiple occasions, they invited both myself and Stephen to watch the Hawks play the 76ers.
"All of these things really touched me and made me feel important and welcomed. From these guys, I learned that it is important to run fast and put in 100% on the track, but the mentorships, bonds, and friendships that are made are more important and they are what makes the team special."
"Because of these guys, I tried to be a cool dude to some of the freshman, especially Tommy Moxham. I hope I made him feel as included as Casey made me feel my freshman year."
Greg Litle, a teammate who just graduated this month, added to Stephen's ability to main the bonds and friendships as the most important thing.
"Stephen is a solid all around dude. His self-effacing humor is second to none and he is always for the boys," Greg said.
Another quality of Stephen is that he does not taking anything for granted. Stephen has an appreciation for not only these friendships, mentorships, and bonds, but also the little things in life, such as his love for food.
"His ability to find enjoyment in all of life's simple pleasures is a strength that few people in our generation possess," Greg added.
"When I think of Steve, I think of him as a furnace. The man can eat. Regardless of what it is, regardless of how much it is, he's a furnace and will eat anything." rising junior Chase Gornbein.
And what comes to mind most recently about Stephen's character is a deep sense of respect. He makes sure to treat others with a basic standard and decent standard, something I hope that has shown through in this article. Moving forward, he wants to be more involved in his extracurriculars in the business school, such as GIMG (Goizueta Investment Managing Group) and Hyperslate Consulting (a small consulting organization he and his friends started).
"While it is bittersweet to see my running career come to an end, I am excited to see what the next chapter of my life holds."
But to these core traits of helping people keep perspective and treating people with respect, he credited his experiences on the cross country team over the last two years.
"I never thought I would develop the friendships that I have made through the team. What is amazing about being on a collegiate program is it brings together people that otherwise would never crossed paths and would have never become friends," Stephen said. "It’s really a hodgepodge of personalities and characters. I know some of the friendships that I have made will go far beyond the track, and that is why I am truly thankful to have been a part of Emory XC."
Stephen would then go on to thank certain people in particular, including his girlfriend, Meredith Hughes and his closest friends.
"I'd like to thank Mere for listening to whatever it is I may be complaining about at a certain time and making me a happier dude each day."
"I would specifically like to thank Alex, Chase, Tommy, and Greg for being great friends to me this season. Those guys always made practice fun. Aside from running, they were always down to have a good time and just fun people to be around in general."
"They have all been amazing friends to me and have been alongside me in both my happiest and worst moments."