NEAC Student-Athlete Spotlight: Derek Smith, SUNY Poly

NEAC Student-Athlete Spotlight: Derek Smith, SUNY Poly

GANSEVOORT, N.Y. - Each week throughout the fall semester, the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) will highlight student-athletes from one of the conference's member institutions through a brief Q & A. Female student-athletes will be featured each Thursday followed by a male student-athlete spotlight each Friday. Today, we get to know Derek Smith from SUNY Poly.

Name: Derek Smith
Sport(s): Men's Cross Country
Hometown: Greece, N.Y.

What is your current class year and major? 

I am a senior communication and information design major. 

Why did you choose to attend SUNY Poly?

The programs both academic and athletic felt like they would fit my personality and work ethic.

What does it mean to you to be a member of the Wildcats?

Beyond just athletics, the Wildcats are a tight-knit community, we care about one another's accomplishments and we live in an environment where everyone constantly wants to make the quality of living better for our fellow students. 

If you could pick one favorite moment at SUNY Poly, what would it be?

Freshman year, NEAC Cross Country Championship Race. The score was so close and we had no idea who had won the meet. I was across the field and out of nowhere I heard my team screaming with joy. I sprinted across the field to meet them, learning we had won by one point. 

What are your career aspirations or future goals?

My immediate goal is to find a stable job as a UX designer. Eventually I would like to run my own graphic design firm.

Are you involved in additional activities, clubs, etc. on campus outside of athletics?

I am the General Manager of Wildcat Media. Wildcat Media is an organization of the SUNY Poly Utica campus that runs a TV station, radio station and DJs live events. I have been a member of the organization for four years and have held many positions. I started as a volunteer, then a publicity coordinator, a chief engineer, and finally General Manager. 

Give us three words that best describe being a Division III student-athlete. 

Dedicated, Camaraderie, Unstoppable 

What is your pregame routine? Any superstitions? 

Before every race, I follow a pretty standard routine. Two-mile warm up, stretches and dynamic flexibility, then spike-up. Then I always wipe my aviator sun glasses clean and put on my bandanna. Next is a 400-meter stride out to get my body ready for the race. Then after the team cheer, I hype up in individual ways with other members of the team. It is usually a mix inside jokes and motivational speeches. 

Share with us some of your favorites:

Food:  Pizza or Twizzlers

Professional Team or Player: I don't really follow sports, but I do get excited to watch the Team USA Track and Field athletes every four years compete in the modern pentathlon. 

Movie: Back to the Future

Class at SUNY Poly: COM 417 - Digital Identity & Branding

Finally, what makes you #NEACStrong? 

I am #NEACStrong because I get up early when you're tired from working all night on Homework to practice. Competing in a sport you love till you're almost too tired to move, knowing that you not only compete for you, but also for your team who love and support you. 

To learn more about the SUNY Poly and Wildcats athletics, visit


The North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) has 12 NCAA Division III member institutions which include: Cazenovia College, College of Saint Elizabeth, Gallaudet University, Keuka College, Lancaster Bible College, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Pennsylvania State University – Abington, Pennsylvania State University – Berks, SUNY Cobleskill, Morrisville State, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, and Wells College. Associate members are: Cedar Crest College (W Swimming), D’Youville College (W Lacrosse), Hilbert College (M&W Lacrosse), Medaille College (M&W Lacrosse), Rutgers University – Camden (M Golf), and Wilson College (M Volleyball). The NEAC has partnered with the North Atlantic Conference in the sport of men’s tennis and with the Colonial State Athletic Conference in the sport of Field Hockey. For more information, please visit: