Barrington's Eiring a study in courage and optimism
On the surface, University of Illinois freshman and budding track star Konrad Eiring appears to be another carefree college freshman, but his story runs far deeper -- his is a story of courage.
The Barrington High School graduate is happy and enthusiastic in his new surroundings, but less than two years ago, Eiring wasn’t so sure about how his future was going to work out.
During the sectional cross-country meet of his junior year, he broke his leg and was facing at least a year in a boot. A strict swimming regimen was the only way for him to maintain his physical conditioning.
Free from distractions during these workouts, Eiring’s thoughts turned to the greatest conflict of his life. He had come to realize that he was gay.
“Inside I was becoming comfortable with being gay," he wrote in a May 2015 blog post on SB Nation.
But like so many other individuals, Eiring was apprehensive about coming out, and about what his family and friends would think or say.
“I was in a battle with myself," he wrote.
During a team-building workshop last winter, Konrad courageously told his two best friends about his sexuality. Their unconditional support encouraged him to come out publicly, which he did on Facebook.
“I returned to land after what seemed like ages in the pool," he wrote. "I ran with a new intensity and vigor. I had shed the feelings of fear and doubt and I ruled the track with confidence."
These days, Konrad, a gifted writer and artist who earned his Eagle Scout badge before he reached his 18th birthday, says he couldn’t be happier.
“It’s been an unbelievable experience so far," Eiring recently told the Lake County Gazette. "I can’t believe I am where I am and how happy I am with it. I love the guys on this team, and they’ve been incredible role models both on the track and off the track. They are just incredibly great guys that care about me as runner, as a student and as a friend. It’s an unbelievable fit for me."
Eiring was a member of the varsity track and cross country team at Barrington High for four years. During his senior year, he was team captain and earned all-academic honors as well. He earned eight varsity letters; four in track and four in cross country. He also won the state 4 x 800 meters relay as sophomore.
Eiring conceded that moving from his hometown and transitioning into the world of college life “was kind of shocking at first," but he has adjusted nicely.
“Sometimes when I leave to go home, I feel a little sad about it, because this is basically my home now," he said.
When he is not on the track or studying, Eiring, likes to listen to a wide variety of music genres. He credits his appreciation and his tastes to his dad, who he says is “huge music buff." Eiring particularly enjoys jazz, soul, electronic, rap, classic rock, and classic country.
“My theory is, if it’s good music I’ll enjoy listening to it," he said.
Another pastime is working on his free form sketchbooks, which he does not consider to be homework.
“I want to be successful enough to live a comfortable life, but I don’t want to compromise the things that I enjoy to reach that," Eiring explained when asked about his goals for the immediate future. “I am on a constant quest to better myself and others, and to be the happiest I can [while] doing it."