When Noah Gade was about 5 years old, he and his sister started tagging along with his mom to work when he wasn't in school.
Mary Gade is an economics professor at Oklahoma State.
“I'd take them to campus with me and they'd sit in a classroom with a notebook and hang out with the college students,” Mary said.
Even then, Noah tried to catch up to what his older sister was doing and tried to fit in in the college classroom.
Now, having just graduated from Stillwater High, Gade is The Oklahoman's male Scholar-Athlete award winner.
His parents said trying to follow in his older sister's footsteps made Noah push himself toward excellence.
Noah chased Emma, two years older than him, both in the classroom and in athletics.
When she learned to write her name, Noah wanted to do it. When Emma started excelling in athletics, Noah wanted to follow right behind her.
“I think it goes back to that,” David Gade said. “He was always trying to do the same physical and mental things that she was able to do.”
Emma went on to play basketball at Oral Roberts before transferring to Oklahoma Christian after last season.
“She paved the way for me to succeed,” Noah said. “She succeeded in the classroom and she succeeded athletically. Watching her do it made me want to do it and showed me how to do it.”
Following Emma also taught Noah to set his sights high.
“He's very determined and always has been,” Mary said. “I've always told him to set his priorities and make his choices and he's done that.”
Instead of going out on Friday nights during his high school years, Gade spent plenty of evenings studying and getting to bed early so he could wake up for an early morning run.
Instead of working in small, incremental goals, Noah looked beyond what most thought he could accomplish.
As an eighth grader, Noah's parents took him to the state cross country meet at Edmond's Mitch Park. Noah, who had started running that year, watched as Tulsa Union's Steven Bake beat teammate Taylor Monaghan for the state title.
“Seeing him cross the line and seeing the excitement and you could see the years of work he put in to finally reach that point, it made me want to get to that some point,” Noah said.
Shortly after the race, Noah told his mother he was going to win a state cross country meet.
“I don't know that we were able to doubt any of those goals that he set for himself,” David said. “He always set really high goals but he almost always achieved them.”
As a freshman, Noah quickly found out he was overmatched but the improvement was steady throughout his career.
As a junior, he finished as the runner-up.
Then this year, as a senior, he won.
“It was just fun to watch him accomplish it,” Mary said. “He's worked hard. He spent his summers training and has been extremely dedicated through this whole process.”
He's just as dedicated in the classroom.
A few weeks ago, Noah found out he'd been awarded a National Merit Scholarship.
“He always knew he wanted to run in college but he also knew that running scholarships were partial scholarships and there's very little money given out for runners,” Mary said. “So he also knew that the academic side was going to be very important.”
Noah will run at Oklahoma State next season. The Cowboys have won three of the last four NCAA titles. He'll also study chemical engineering at the school.
He already has big goals both in the classroom and on the course.
“To be successful, you have to set the goals and overcome the obstacles that come with them because that's what makes achieving them so special,” Noah said. “I want to continue to be persistent and set goals where they present themselves.”