My Story: A Diary Entry

Passion. That's what this sport was to me. It was my love and the main focus and honestly a good reason for attending college, to begin with. It provided opportunities to visit places I probably would have never visited and introduced me to people who have made everlasting imprints on my life. I envisioned so much for myself as an athlete that I paid more attention to what I wanted from the track than what I wanted from Ashley. I thought this was who I was.

As young as fourth grade, I became a two-sport athlete. The first school I went to was a private Christian school that didn't have any sports. Then I transferred to my first public school. From there, I transitioned between basketball and track during the different seasons. That was really the root and start of my student-athlete life.

By the time high school rolled around, I was primarily focused on basketball and wanting to play at the next level. I still ran track because it came naturally to me and it was always my first love, but my focus wasn't really on it like it should have been. I remember Ray, a family friend and also my trainer, telling my mom freshman year that I could go to good colleges if I quit basketball and put all my effort into the track, but I didn't listen. It took me experiencing politics and favoritism over natural skill and athleticism to eventually step away from basketball junior year. At that point, I didn't even like it anymore. So I did what I should have done as a freshman and focused on track for my senior year. I felt like I wasted so much time trying to play basketball that nobody really knew about me in track to even consider getting a scholarship somewhere. So, although I really didn't want to... I decided to go to a junior college.. and I didn't want to stay in Fresno, so we visited some schools in LA. I ended up picking a completely different school which turned out to be Long Beach City College and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. 

Being at Long Beach really taught me how to grow and adapt to being on my own. It was scary at first, but I learned some valuable lessons while being there. I had an amazing coach who believed in me and my potential, which I kind of had in high school, but not completely. Coach K was her name and she was crazy, but a good crazy. I had never had a coach like her and she was exactly what I needed. Tough, blunt, and willing to help. When it was time for off-season training she asked what I wanted to gain during my time being at LBCC. I told her my goal was to get out after two years, to run in the California Community College State meet and get a good amount of scholarship offers from schools so that I had a choice.. specifically full ride so my mom wouldn't have to come out of pocket for my tuition. She was the first coach that believed I could go somewhere other than where I was telling her I wanted to go, which was Northridge at the time.

To give a summary, freshman year at LBCC, I didn't make it to the state by one spot. The disappointment was real. So, the determination and work effort going into sophomore year increased. I was going to go to state. I was going to receive offers. I was getting that full-ride scholarship.

Don't ever doubt the power of speaking things into existence. I punched my bid to the state championship meet the following season and I ended up getting offers from schools in Texas, Louisiana, and around California. However, Long Beach State was recruiting the hardest and really made me feel like I was already a part of the program. That's where I saw myself going and I started to pay less attention to the other schools. However, the joy of having a full ride there slowly changed to solely being offered books, and I decided not to sign there. Then as I was getting my visit set up with UTEP, the coach leaves. I had basically written off the other schools and I wasn't sold on going to Louisiana.. and then I suddenly found myself stuck with no options. After checking off every goal I set for myself that year, it seemed like everything was slowly going downhill. I had no idea what was next.. or where I was going to go to school. To be completely honest, I thought I was going to end up back at LBCC.

About a week after the state championships Coach K calls and says that a coach wants me to come to visit. This is great news considering how drastically things changed. I then asked her what school and she replied Cal State LA. My first thought was " I don't want to go to a Division II school"... but I went on the visit anyway, because... I didn't have any other options.

Cal State LA offered me a full ride. I thought it over for about a week and decided that I was going to sign my LOI. At this point it wasn't even about what division I was going to be competing in anymore, it was about getting a free education and being able to do what I love every day.

But, wait a second. It sounds like it got good, but it turned for the worst.

Cal State LA uses the quarter system for their academic school year, so we weren't going to start school for about a month. It's August and the athletic coordinator from the school contacts all the transfers and incoming freshmen saying that our coach basically resigned. Well isn't that great news? I just signed to go somewhere with no coach. She says we can still choose to come and run for Cal State LA or leave and talk to other schools. I can't leave at this point where will I go? Most schools have already started or about to start classes. So, I decide to stay.

We had no coach from September to about a couple weeks before the first indoor meet. Mind you, the indoor season begins in early January. I had never run indoor and on top of that, I've never done off-season training without a coach. We all knew the upcoming season wasn't going to be good for us at all. I asked almost every day when were we getting a coach and I just kept hearing "We are still interviewing candidates". I even tried to convince Coach K to take the position. Finally, before Christmas break, we got our coach after months of having practiced with the athletic director.

All I can say about that first year at Cal State LA is, I should have redshirted. I was being turned into a quarter-miler and it just threw off all kinds of frequency in my running. It was a struggle. I hated the 400. But I was always forced into doing it because of my build. I did none of the events I actually earned my scholarship for and I ended my season after the conference 400m prelims due to an Achilles injury.

That season ends and guesses what? Our coach gets fired. Once again we started off with no coach ( I was rehabbing anyway) but I was pretty sure it was going to be the same as the year before.

Then Coach T joined the program from USC. Everyone was pretty excited. Especially since Lionel Larry was on staff, as well as former Olympian Barbra Ferrell-Edmonson, "Coach E".

We finally got a good staff, but my last couple of seasons under them felt unfair... unfair because I felt like I finally got some quality coaching, but they were doing so much to help fix everything the last coach messed up.. and I didn't get a lot of time to actually be coached by them considering I was entering my last season of eligibility for outdoor.  My season started off good, but then quickly went downhill. I was doing two a day practices almost every day at the beginning of the season to get on pace with where I should be, even on days we had hard workouts. I would do a solo 7 am practice with Coach E, go to classes, have regular team practice with Coach E and T, go to night class, then study hall, and eventually home to get back up and do it again. That was my schedule because I was determined.. only free days I had were meet days. I ended up having another injury, later on, this time tendonitis in my knee. I had dealt with it before, but not to this extreme. I could barely walk..resulting in me sitting out the first two indoor meets the next season and things just weren't going how I planned, of course. I eventually just tried to stop focusing on everything I was trying to do and times I wanted to run. I just tried to enjoy my last indoor season and soak it all in, because I wasn't having fun with it anymore.  It needed to be fun for me like it used to be because I would never get to do this experience again. My last season wasn't great,  but it was a whole lot better than the years before and I got closer with my coaches.

To sum it all up, I was basically frustrated that I knew I could run times that I wanted because I did it in practice, but for some reason, it just wasn't happening for me. Goals, dreams, and everything else went out the window.. and my time running track at Cal State LA resulted in me starting to hate track over time. Never in a million years did I ever think I could hate the track, but I did. I got to a point where I was over it. I was tired of people seeing so much in me and finally seeing my talent that I've always known I've had... and working my butt off with nothing to show. My whole entire college career after transferring felt like a game of catch-up, a waste of time, and a big joke. I was better than this, so why wasn't anything working out?

It sucked, seeing girls you ran against in high school doing so well when that's where you were trying to be. I learned a lot about myself during this time. I got to a really low place. I didn't really believe in myself anymore. I let what I wanted from track and what other people thought to consume me and when it wasn't going how I envisioned it to go from the moment I signed to Cal  State LA, it ate me up.

In my mind, I was done. However, after talking to coaches and being told not to quit just yet... Coach E took over and slowly, I started liking it again. She is an amazing coach, but.. the reality of not being a college athlete anymore and needing money to pay bills interferes with trying to train. So I've had to put something I love on the back burner...

It's something that I'm still trying to cope with. It's even hard covering stories on other athletes journey to the Olympic trials sometimes.. and I think the reason why it's so hard for me to walk away is that none of us, my family.. my coaches, and especially myself, didn't get the chance to see how good I could actually be.. with some solid, consistent training and not having to deal with what I dealt with in college.

Going pro is every athlete's dream, but I wasn't trying to have that as a career. Being a reporter and journalist is what I want out of a career. Track.. track was just a passion and a personal goal of mine, to see if all the cards were stacked right if I could achieve it.. and once I did... I would be content.

I guess the most important lesson I've learned from my own story is that God will lead you in a direction, just to set you on a different path. I believe he used the track to allow me to get my degree.. and I also believe he used everything else that went on in between to lead me to what I'm doing now. To truly get an understanding of the person I am outside of running track and what I truly want out of life. My ambitions. Career goals. Allowing me to get out of Fresno. Pushing me to get my master's. To have me cross paths with people like Coach K and Coach T..Coach E. All of my teammates along the way, who is still by my side supporting me.. and to use me as an outlet to share other's stories, while still being able to be a part of the track in a way. 

The moral of the story is don't try to fight the path he's trying to lead you in. You may not understand it. You may not like it and it may not be what you even want... but he's doing it for the greater good. Who knows.. maybe after I achieve becoming a top media maven. I can try to give it another shot. But for now, I still have at least one of my dreams within arms reach and I have a lot of good memories from college I can share with my kids someday.

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Ashley Avenu. Jeremiah 29:11.