At what age did you begin participating in track and field?
This is a good question. I went to Holy Family early on and we did not have sports when I was there. Today we have sports at Holy Family. I always remember running and jumping or climbing, but my first recollection of playing a sport is soccer and being in the 3rd grade or 9 yrs. However, I don't remember any girls just playing with the boys. I started running in the 4th grade, and in the 5th or 6th grade, I started playing basketball.
What first made you want to participate in track and field?
I don't remember not wanting to participate or not being active. Even when the sport was 4 square or dodge ball, I wanted to play. Playing on the basketball team was a natural progression. We were already playing together, so putting together a team just seemed natural. The basketball team was started by one of the players Dad. Coach Custer was his name.
What other sports did you play growing up? Any good stories about them?
Basketball, Volleyball, Track & Field, Tennis, Jump Rope (Double Dutch).
As a freshman, I got to play on the varsity team. Once, in a varsity basketball game, we were winning against Rogers High School. My Coach, Coach Harris, put me in the game on defense. I rebounded the ball and immediately put it back up- I had accidentally scored for the other team and was immediately taken out!
What were some of the challenges you faced? Early on? Now? As a woman?
Athletics has not changed (in my opinion) all that much for women, especially at local levels and not just in the Oklahoma area. It is still primarily male dominated. I think that is a major challenge for a woman trying to navigate those waters. I was lucky, in my athletic career that one of my coaches was a female, Jonita Ford Criddle. Through her example, I learned to pay attention, listen and learn, and be an example for my athletes. I continue to be mindful of the male ego and ways to get around the ego and get to the benefit of coaching or moving the program forward.
Greatest moment/accomplishment in your sport?
I started running in elementary school because a classmate would pull my hair. I would chase her home and would be just about to catch her when her mother would open the door and she would run in. As we got older, we ran, played basketball, and other sports together. As adults, we are still both avid runners. In 2008-2009, I finally beat her in a marathon. I was so excited, you would have thought I won the race!
With my youth athletes, I have had the opportunity to coach with several schools in the Tulsa area and work with athletes all around the state. Many of those athletes have become state champions, national champions, gotten scholarships or found their confidence through the sport of track and field. That is more of an accomplishment for the athlete, but I feel blessed to have been or be a part of helping them reach a goal.
What keeps you going year after year?
The athletes and the love of the sport.
Future plans within your sport?
I have started an organization, MoveIt Sports Organization that focuses on getting kids up an active through the sport of Track and Field and movement. Our obesity numbers are on the rise across the country. Our school systems continues to limit the amount of time a child gets to play, and once school ends other activities take place. Studies have shown that regular activity can help children improve cardio fitness, build muscles, reduce depression and anxiety and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Unhealthy children become unhealthy adults, I want to help change that for our youth.
Future plans outside of the sport, i.e. professional life, personal life?
In my professional life as an independent IT Healthcare Consultant I continue to learn new things and stay abreast of new tools to assist my clients. I am currently taking a certification course for Oracle and learning a new coding application.
How far have track and field and basketball come during the timeframe in which you have been involved?
Basketball for women now has the WNBA. That did not exist when I was playing. In track and field women continue to break barriers, set records and have new first. Athletes are becoming elite athletes in the sport younger than ever before. There are more injuries in sports than ever before, but also more methods of rehabilitation. Amazing the things that are available today to help an athlete in various sports.
Where would you like to see your sport be in the coming years?
With the growing number of concussions and lower extremity injuries in sports such as football, soccer, volleyball, and basketball, I believe track and field athletes will be on the rise. I would like to see the Tulsa and surrounding areas take more of an interest in the 14 and under age group. I plan to make that happen.
What lessons have you taken from track and field that have helped you in your professional and person life away from the track?
Track and Field has always been a sport that teaches you goal setting, discipline, determination, stick-to-itiveness, fitness, teamwork, loss, etc., and those are lessons that have served me well as an entrepreneur. When I have been unsuccessful or struggling in my business life, those lessons have helped me regroup and review my preparation plan or walk through missteps etc., so I don't make the same mistake again.
What advice do you have for younger athletes coming up in track and field?
Start. Don't give up. Your best is good enough. Those words have served me well.
3 words to describe your sports journey. Discuss why you chose those 3 words.
Long, Fun, Necessary. I have been an athlete for a very long time. Walking, running, jumping and throwing are things we do as children and as we grow we continue to move in some manner. Once we become adults, activity affects our health and fitness our wellbeing. Movement is a ŶeĐessary part of our liǀes. My sports journey has been fun. I don't remember a sport that I did not enjoy. I can't say that I always liked practice, I certainly did not like injury or having to sit out, but I thoroughly enjoyed playing every sport. I coach today and continue to exercise and run because it's fun and a very necessary part of my life. Running is a stress reliever for me. I believe I am better because I do.