December 15th marked three months since I moved into my Northern Phoenix apartment, my whole life packed into the backseat and trunk of a car. All for the sake of pursuing an opportunity to train professionally at the World Athletics Center’s US campus.
When I first applied, I never thought that I would actually find myself in the position to leave everything I know and head west. I was a Division III athlete and albeit highly decorated, you rarely hear about Division III athletes making a name for themselves after college. I knew it would be a push and that to carve a space out for myself in the world of professional track & field would take more than I had previously given.
My senior year was nothing short of balancing the common stresses of turning in senior capstone projects and worrying about whether or not I would have a job at the end of the summer, but I was also trying to put out my best performances on the track. For me, it was a means of proving to myself that my dream of continuing to run after college was not unfounded.
I made a lot of progress in my final year as a Lyon. I notched two of the fastest times in Division III history in the indoor 400m and 200m, (200m: 24.67, 400m: 54.82), secured my second 400m national title, broke two school records, (200m: 24.67 indoors, and 400H: 58.51), in addition to owning 500m- 1:14.33, 600m- 1:37.09, and 100H- 13.89, set a national record (400H: 58.51 outdoors), and was named the indoor and outdoor USTFCCCA Regional Track Athlete of the Year. While I never dreamed of being as successful as I was at Wheaton, I know that there is still a lot of work left to do.
The Semi-Pro Membership with the World Athletics Center was created for “performers moving towards elite, but not quite world class at the present moment”. This was the opportunity that I have been waiting for, a foot in the door.
Now that I’m a 71-day veteran of the WAC, I can say the above with even more certainty.
I can’t even begin to explain how nervous I was leading up to the first week of training. All I could think about was how behind I would be compared to the other athletes: Division 1 All-Americans, national team members, Nike athletes, Olympians, national and WORLD record holders. I was afraid that they would realize they made a mistake by offering me membership, but it has been just the opposite.
The first thing that I noticed about the WAC was how warm and friendly everyone was- I immediately felt welcomed by the athletes and coaches. The second thing that I noticed was how detail-oriented the program is. Each cycle is handed out every three weeks, mapping out every warm up, workout and lift to be completed. Our rest week actually offers us rest, days off are built into our program. For someone who thrives off of structure, this was a huge comfort. Attention to detail also serves as a foundation for the coaching here. Every movement is screened. The coaches, true masters of the sport, focus on everything- even seemingly simple drills (and trust me, no drill is really simple). It showed me that this is no longer a game. This is a livelihood.
Being in an environment where everyone is on a similar mission is an amazing thing. We all have chosen to be here because we are passionate about this sport. Athletes, coaches and therapists- every day we come to work and we give our best effort to be better.
Two weeks ago, I finished out a day of double sessions- finally leaving Exos close to 6:00pm (my day started at 9:15am with therapy before practice). I remember thinking to myself this is what I want to do every day. Workout, train, learn, lift – be surrounded by brilliant minds and brilliant athletes.
Environment will do that to you.