The Path to Becoming a Professional Track and Field Athlete?

Posted by Latif Thomas

Over the coming months, CTF will be expanding and evolving in a number of directions I believe will contribute to improving the sport as a whole, as well as enhancing the experiences of athletes and coaches.

We will continue to place our primary emphasis on coaches and athletes competing at the developmental levels. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t be effective in helping in other areas.

One such example is the purpose of this post.

As you know, here in the USA, track and field is a fringe sport. It has no professional foothold to speak of and, at the high school level, its treated as a placeholder/bridge/get a free personal trainer/second class sport.

Let’s follow this fact to its logical conclusion:

It is a difficult road to travel for any talented athlete (particularly one who isn’t winning D1 NCAA Titles in the 100 or 1500) with aspirations of training full time as a professional track and field athlete.

But, I like a good underdog story.

Over the past several years, I’ve had the opportunity to watch the personal and athletic evolution of a young woman named Ashante Little. Under the tutelage of Wheaton College (MA) Head Coach (and #CTFClinic Featured Clinician) David Cusano, I watched her evolve from a soft, skinny freshman at a D3 school (not a criticism, just an observation Shante!) into a National Champion (400m), National Record Holder (400H) and USTFCCCA Regional Track Athlete of the Year (indoor and outdoor).

Ashante Little - 400 Hurdles

Ashante Little

Shante impressed me so much, I brought my girls team to one of her practices for the sole purpose of watching her run a workout. I wanted them to see how a Champion trains. The violence and focus she displayed was something I could not express with words. They had to see it for themselves.

Due to her success, she applied and was granted a spot at the World Athletics Center, in order to pursue her dreams of running professionally and earning a spot on a National Team.

However, as I said before, this is an expensive undertaking. Tuition to the WAC, travel, housing, food, etc., these costs add up. These costs are the reason most aspiring track and field athletes must give up on their dreams and get an adult job.

So I’ve decided, through Complete Track and Field, to serve as a ‘sponsor’ for Shante’s pursuit of her dreams.

We are not a big company. I am the sole owner and currently employ just a couple of part time staffers. Nike we are not. So I’m certainly not telling you that we are covering all of her financial needs or anything close to it.

But, the stipend does help allow her to focus on training full time and not train part time, work a regular job part time.

As part that sponsorship, each month, Shante will be sharing the details of her journey. Her monthly posts will run the gamut of topics from personal to training and competing. And she’ll be happy to answer any questions you post.

I think it will be very interesting to get an inside look at the trials and tribulations of a high level athlete as she works her way toward Elite Level status.

I believe in Shante and I’m happy to both play a role in helping her reach her goals, but also bring her experience to you.

If you have any thoughts, questions and/or ideas in terms of topics/areas you’d like her to cover, feel free to post them.

Thanks for reading this post and supporting CTF.

Click here now to read Shante Little’s first post on CTF as she pursues her dream.


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Latif Thomas - Latif Thomas owns and operates Complete Track and Field and serves as the Co-Director of the Complete Track and Field Clinic at Harvard University, the largest track and field clinic in the United States. A popular speaker and presenter at some of the largest coaching clinics across the country, Latif has true passion for the sport and it definitely shows. Over the past 19 years, he has coached more combined League, Division, All-State, and New England Champions in sprints, hurdles, and jumps than he can count. Follow @latif_thomas on Twitter.

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