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Route Toward Success

Dual-sport college athlete puts family first

by Jessica Hunt

Julian Lowe, who has 1,474 receiving yards in two years at Otterbein, also has excelled on the track. Otterbein University photo

With 20 career touchdowns, Julian Lowe is within nine of matching the Otterbein receiving record in his final season and is on his way to a degree in allied health. Yet to get to this place in his life, Lowe had to refuse to let the difficulties he faced stymie his future.

Lowe’s first attempt at college was short-lived. He enrolled at Alderson Broaddus in fall 2012 but was home by mid-September because his father had been laid off and needed help to support Lowe’s 16-year-old brother. By December, Lowe was juggling three jobs, often working 18-hour days.

Life continued to get harder: His father was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor that required surgery. “When you walk in the kitchen and you look at a refrigerator and it’s just empty, it’s depressing,” Lowe says. “And it’s not because you’re hungry — it’s more or less because no one else can eat, and you can’t feed them.”

Lowe knew he needed to take care of himself — and that even tireless work would advance neither his nor his family’s financial situation. “I just got to thinking, ‘If I can’t take care of myself, then how am I going to care for everybody else?’” Lowe recalls.

His father improved in health and was able to secure a job that allowed his son to return to school. Lowe enrolled closer to home at Akron, about 90 minutes from his hometown of Gahanna, Ohio, in time to walk on to the football team for the 2013-14 season.

He spent two seasons with the Zips but again felt pulled to help his family, particularly his ailing grandmother. Even closer to home, Lowe discovered Otterbein and football coach Tim Doup, who told Lowe the school would give him the support he needed to graduate.

Lowe made an immediate impact during the 2015-16 season with the Cardinals, where his 12 touchdowns were second-highest in the Ohio Athletic Conference for the season. On the track team, Lowe broke the conference indoor record in the 200-meter dash and was named conference Indoor Sprinter of the Year. 

The same work ethic that pushes Lowe to support his family has brought him success as a two-sport athlete.

“He is one of the fiercest, most intense players I’ve ever been around,” Doup says. “He is 100 percent all the time, even in practice. If he catches a ball at the 50-yard line, even in practice, he sprints to the end zone.”

As Lowe enters his final semester of eligibility, he wants to continue to be a leader in the locker room and help his team earn a playoff spot. He believes taking time off to help his family put him in position to succeed.

“If I had to go through the same struggles to get to who I am today, I don’t think I would change any of it,” he says. “It’s definitely made me a better person.”

About Champion

Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.

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