Hugh might be the name that appears on the class roster, but it’s not the name I choose to go by. Hugh just doesn’t fit me, if I’m being honest, and I would hate for people to feel that I misrepresent myself to them.
Okay, hold up, we need to rewind a bit with this whole name thing. July 8th, 1999, I was born Santiago Leon Benavides in the capital city of Colombia, Bogota. As a young infant, being only two and a half months old, I was adopted out of Colombia by the only two Americans that were in the country. By a miracle from God, those two Americans took a leap of faith and journeyed to the most dangerous country in the world in hopes of giving a child a chance at a better life. After being adopted, my legal name was changed to Hugh Davis Santiago Barlow. Now, 19 years later, the yellow, red, and blue wristband that I wear on my right wrist every second of every day, represents my acknowledgment of my former life and where I would be if I wasn’t blessed enough to be adopted.
Since the beginning of my childhood, I have lived and breathed sports, it’s just how I was raised. When I began my first sport, baseball, at the age of 2, I never knew that it would grow to be more than just a game in my life. Sure I tried other sports, but they just weren’t for me. As you can tell by the picture above, baseball was where my heart was – and still is. The game continued to be a factor in my life, teaching me life lessons that I never though a simple game with a ball and a glove could teach me. The course of my life would ultimately be altered by baseball and quietly led me to choose Piedmont College as my place to further my education as well as continue my career.
Now, baseball takes up the majority of my life, but contrary to popular belief, I do have a life outside of the game. Hiking and adventuring are two areas I devote large amounts of my “free time” towards. There’s just something about the top of a mountain, with a good view at Golden Hour (Golden Hour is considered to be the best time to take pictures) that I really enjoy. Journeying across the southeastern United States has provided a beautiful insight into just how wondrous adventuring can be.
The one other thing that I really enjoy doing comes from the way I’m built. I’m not talking about physical size, cause let’s be honest – I’m 5 feet 10 inches and about 160 pounds soaking wet, I’m not a big guy. However, Mark Twain said it best, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of fight in the dog.” Extreme sports such as American Ninja Warrior and Spartan Races have been some of the greatest equalizers I have found in my life. Suddenly, the ripped and built guy from the local gym, who is bench pressing 400 plus pounds, is helpless as he attempts to pull himself up the 40 foot cargo net. And, to add to his frustration, I am able to scamper up the net at nearly half the time it takes him make it half way up. This event taught me a valuable life lesson. Even though the man from the gym was definitely bigger, stronger, and taller than me, he simply wasn’t built for the task at hand. However, most people watching us climb, picked him to be the first up the net. To me, Admiral William H. McRaven, the Head of the Navy Seals, said it best in his graduation speech at the University of Texas in 2014, “If you want to change the world, measure someone by the size of their heart.”