The Noble Project
Tay is 5’7” and about 165 lbs. He has a tan complexion and keeps his face well-shaven. His hair is short and thick, but usually not well-combed. He is still in excellent physical condition, with not much bulk wasted on his frame. He wears no corrective lenses and has had only one cavity in his life.
Tay is very amiable and optimistic, though he can occasionally be so to the point of being annoying. He carries the spirituality that comes with being raised by a preacher, and he’s not shy about preaching to others. Although his experiences since leaving Greenbend have made him tolerant of divergent beliefs, it does not stop him from trying to win converts from time to time.
Tay can come across as naive, but this is primarily a side effect of his optimism. He works hard at remaining humble, and is not one to showcase his abilities overtly. With the exception of hunting, his combat-related skills have only been used in artificial environments. Meaning, he’s never shot at another human being and never fenced where someone might actually get hurt. In fact, he feels great responsibility for his talents, that they shouldn’t be used improperly.
Since the Olympics, a dream since childhood, Tay is someone very much at peace with the world. His only anxieties are his desire to finish school and become a valued member of society and to watch over his family.
Tay was born in Greenbend, Tennessee; a town of just over 200 people. He was the fifth of nine children, and the first of two sons. Tay’s mother worked at home, taking care of her large family. Tay’s father was a preacher and an avid outdoorsman. They were a hard working family, self-sufficiency and faith being stressed over all other demands.
Tay got along well with his sisters, but spent most of his time with his father starting at about eight years old. His father regularly took him hunting, fishing, hiking, and camping. He taught him how to hunt with a bow or a rifle, fish with a fly rod or bait, and basic outdoor survival skills. Tay loved the outdoors and learned quickly and proficiently.
When Tay was eleven, he began doing chores for a neighboring farm, the Grants. The Grants raised chickens, mink, and a few horses. It was Tay’s job to take care of their horses. In addition to feeding and grooming, Tay would ride almost every day, and he got better and better as he got older.
By the time he reached his teens, Tay was nearly as good a hunter and fisherman as his father, especially skilled at bow hunting and fly fishing. When he was fifteen, he won a local fly-fishing competition and held the title four years straight. Though very coordinated, Tay was always small for his age. Throughout high school, he competed in archery, swimming, and long distance track & field events. His father taught him that he would “always have to work that much harder” to keep up with everyone else. Most of his bedroom was decorated with ribbons and trophies from a variety of sports. Even outside of school, he and his friends would horseback ride, rock climb, or fish nearly everyday.
Tay was so good at sports that when he graduated high school he received a full athletic scholarship to Southern Illinois University. The scholarship was for a combination of swimming and track & field, but for Tay and his family it was a ticket to opportunity. Tay was the first of his family to attend a university and his family was very proud.
Before he left home for school his father told him, “Tay, you’re a young man from another time, maybe a better time. Don’t let the world take that from you. Stay to true to yourself, your family, and to God.” The words stayed with Tay. He’d always felt a little out of place, and he found his father’s description of being “from another time” somehow comforting.
THE YOUNG MAN
Tay chose his major as Physical Education, wanting to one day teach high school. In addition to his academic courses, in which he was an average student, he had to train in order to maintain his scholarship. Being involved in a higher level of athletics opened Tay’s eyes to something he’d lost since he was a boy, humility. It wasn’t Greenbend anymore, and he struggled at first just to keep up with teammates.
Once Tay got his academics and athletics under control, he started to look at other teams and clubs that piqued his interest. He made the archery team and joined a rock climbing club, and decided to stick with them as long as they didn’t affect his scholarship.
Near the end of his freshman year, Tay also joined the fencing club on the advice of a friend. It was there that someone introduced him to the modern pentathlon. Tay’s ability to be competent in so many areas served him well. He stepped up his fencing training and practiced hard at the pistol and, by the end of his sophomore year, was competing. By the end of his junior year, he was the state collegiate champion.
Tay had to make a decision that would, temporarily, get him in trouble with his family. Tay dropped out of school to train full-time, wanting to try out for the next Olympics in modern pentathlon.
Tay trained hard for almost a year before serious competition. He finished third in the Nationals his first time out, but this enabled him to get sponsors. Olympic tryouts came shortly after, but mental errors cost him a spot on the team.
His coach recommended that he take off six months to decompress and then start training for the other major competitions; the Nationals, the Pan American Games, and the Goodwill Games. He got involved in some activities to stay in shape while avoiding specific training for the pentathlon; including mountain biking, river rafting, and two of his previous passions, rock climbing and archery. At the end of the six months, he was healthy, and his mind was clear again. He started training heavier than ever, particularly at fencing, which had been his weakest event. He also continued to cross train with the activities he’d done during his off-time.
Over the next few years, Tay continued his regimen and participated in every major competition he could afford. He would often try out for other events; including archery, fencing, and various endurance track & field events. He qualified in one or two of them occasionally, but his focus was always on the modern pentathlon. During one year, he found the time to compete on an Eco-Challenge team. Though they finished in the bottom third, it helped Tay attract the sponsors he needed to make it to the next Olympic tryouts.
When tryouts for the summer Olympics came again, all of his hard work paid off. Tay tried out for modern pentathlon, archery, fencing, and 1500-Meter freestyle swimming. He made the modern pentathlon team and was an alternate on the fencing team. In the months between the start of the games, Tay repaired his relationship with his family, and otherwise focused on training.
By the closing ceremonies, Tay had the opportunity to compete for the fencing team, though he lost most of his matches, and earned a bronze medal in the modern pentathlon. He was proud. His family was proud.
Now that he had reached the goal that he’d sought for so long, he wasn’t sure what to do. He decided to go back to school and finish his degree. A year and a half later, Tay earned his B.A., and was ready to re-enroll to earn his teaching credential. He saw an ad in the school paper for the research project. Figuring the money could pay off school loans, and with few other options, Tay decided to go in for the evaluation.
Tay was as surprised as anyone when he was selected. To save money on rent, he rented a storage locker for most of his possessions. He packed up his essentials for the trip, tuned up his motorcycle, and headed down the road for Oregon.