MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State decathlete Devin Dick is one of the best in the nation at what he does. But he also is a testicular cancer survivor.
For his amazing achievements in overcoming the devastating disease and pushing himself to continue a highly successful career in college athletics, Dick is receiving the N4A Wilma Rudolph Student-Athlete Achievement Award today at the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics Convention in Florida.
Dick is one of five student-athletes to receive the award this year and follows a long list of predecessors who have overcome a lot in their careers as well. The award is given annually to student-athletes who have overcome great personal, academic and/or emotional odds to achieve academic success while participating in intercollegiate athletics. The award winners have all persevered to make personal strides to succeed.
“You get a sense of pride for knowing that you went face to face with a giant and actually beat it,” Dick said. “It does give you a great amount of pride because you can’t say everybody goes out and beats cancer because there are a lot of people that do lose their lives to it and that’s a very serious thing.
“It’s been four years since I finished chemo and I’ve made progress. I’m not to where I want to be. It’s gonna be slow, but we’re gonna get there sometime.”
Diagnosed with testicular cancer during his freshman year at Wichita State, Dick went through a grueling chemo-therapy program that would attack the cancer but not too aggressively to cause significant damage to his lungs so he could possibly one day compete again in athletics.
After taking time off for his treatment, Dick decided to make a change academically and transfer to K-State where the College of Agriculture has a strong tradition. He reconnected with his love for the ag industry while working on his family farm and helping out at his father’s veterinary practice during his treatment.
It was upon arriving at K-State that Dick began to consider resuming his athletics career and approached head coach Cliff Rovelto about the possibility of competing.
“I really don’t think a lot of people had an appreciation for exactly what he went through, and I don’t know if I did,” Rovelto said. “I have heard more and more as time has gone on and it’s nothing short of amazing what he has been able to do. I think it is nothing short of remarkable. I have been extremely impressed with how he has handled everything. He has never asked for a favorable treatment. He has never asked for anything other than an opportunity.”
In his two seasons at K-State, Dick has made a major impact in the combined events. He finished third in the decathlon at the Big 12 Championship last year when the Wildcats hosted the meet and claimed second place in the heptathlon indoors this season at the Big 12 Championship. His score at the Big 12 Indoor Championship this season was high enough to grab the final qualifying spot in the heptathlon for the NCAA Championship.
At the NCAA Championship, Dick would finish in a tie for 14th place and earn USTFCCCA Second Team All-America.
This season outdoors, he finished seventh at the Big 12 Championship in the decathlon.
Recognition of his journey has come from his peers as well with Dick receiving the Most Inspirational Award at the Powercat Choice Awards in April that are nominated and voted on by K-State student-athletes.
The Wilma Rudolph Award is named in honor of one of the greatest female athletes in American history. Rudolph was born premature and stricken with polio as a child and wore a brace on her left leg. Through physical therapy she overcame the disability and went on to become the fastest woman in the world in the 1960s and the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympic Games in 1960 in Rome. She even qualified for the 1956 Olympic Games when she was only 16 years old.
Past winners of the Wilma Rudolph Student-Athlete Achievement Award include: former Rutgers football player Eric LaGrand, who was paralyzed during a game in October of 2010 and has since become an inspirational speaker, and Arizona basketball player Kevin Parrom, who overcame the loss of his grandmother and a gunshot wound to his right leg on September 23, 2011, while visiting his mother who was in the final stages of a battle with cancer.