Marsh column: College athletes have to work hard at their sport

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 16, 2012

By Ester Marsh
For the Salisbury Post
SALISBURY – As many of you know, my husband and I are AAU track coaches and this is the first year our JF Hurley YMCA has a competitive track and field team the YMCA Warriors. It’s a traveling team with ages starting (this year) from 8 to 18, a great base for college track and hopefully lots of scholarships. In next week’s column, I will be talking to Head Coach Justin Davis of Livingstone College to see what a coach and school are looking for when giving scholarships to athletes. This week, I will be talking about what it takes to make it to the nationals when you have received that scholarship.
As a former top athlete myself in judo, I know the hours of blood, sweat and tears it takes, and how many sacrifices you have to make to be a top athlete. And even with all that, it does not guarantee you a medal or qualification to nationals or anything else.
First, locally, you might be a “wonder” (whichever sport you may participate in). You are the “talented” one. Getting to state, you meet lots more talent, and when you qualify for nationals, everyone pretty much has talent and are the “wonders” in their towns and states. Now it comes to not only your talent, but your hard work, dedication and sacrifices you are willing to make. Then, you need to stay healthy and injury free and everyone needs some luck on their side when you are performing with the best.
This upcoming Friday and Saturday, the Livingstone track team is competing in Virginia at the CIAA Division II Conference Championships. Two of their athletes already have qualified for nationals — freshman Quanera Hayes and freshman Brittany Burton. Hayes competed in the 400 meter dash with a time of 55.76, ranked 13th in the nation with that time and placed fourth in the indoor nationals. Burton is ranked 20th in the nation in the high jump with a height of 5 feet 6 inches.
There are six more athletes who have a chance to make it to the nationals in Colorado May 24-26.
Sophomore Anna-Kay Edwards in the 800 meter run. She ran a 2:17.26 and her qualifying time is 2:14.
Hayes in the 200 meter dash. She ran a 24.74 and qualifying time is 24.55
Freshman Keith Grant from South Rowan in the high jump. He jumped 6 feet 6.75 inches and qualifying height is 6 feet 8.75 inches.
Sophomore Justin Avery from West Rowan in the 100 meter dash. He ran a time of 10.65 and qualifying time is 10.60 (so close!) and in the 200 meter dash he ran a time of 21.51 and qualifying time is 21.45
Senior Bryan Aycoth from West Rowan in the javelin throw. He has thrown 189 feet 6 inches and qualifying distance is 193 feet 6.75 inches. (He has been dealing with an elbow injury but hopefully will be healed up and ready to throw.)
Junior Ahmad Garrison in the discus. He threw 156 feet 9 inches and to qualify he needs 163 feet.
All very close with great chances to qualify and represent Livingstone College, Salisbury and North Carolina at the nationals.
Ahmad is from Philadelphia and also is a scholarship recipient for football and track at Livingstone College. He is a great young man who has volunteered for me at our YMCA for many events and internships. Ahmad, along with Coach Erica Carter, volunteers as a throw coach for our YMCA track and field team.
So what does Ahmad do to try to make it to the nationals?
He does weights three days a week for 2 hours, twice a week he does plyometrics and cardio for an hour and a half. He throws two times a week for three hours and volunteers as coach for our track team, all while juggling a workload of 16 hours in school.
I have spoken to many athletes in middle and high school, and some are convinced their talent will get them to the big colleges. Boy, what a wake up call they will have when they realize colleges are looking as hard at their grade point average as they do at their talent.
To become a college athlete you have to have the talent and the grades. Next week, I will be covering that. This week, I hope everyone realizes a little bit of what it takes to be a college athlete. Even when they are not winning or qualifying for nationals, they are working very hard and are making sacrifices. The Livingstone College track team is in high need of funds for their travels (hotels and food). If you are able to give money to them, it is tax deductible and you are giving these young, hardworking athletes a better chance to perform at their best. If you are able and/or interested, please contact head Coach Justin Davis at 704-798-5764 or Livingstone College at 704-216-6000. Let them know you want to make a donation to the track and field team.
Next week: What a coach looks for in an athlete to offer a scholarship to his or her college.
Ester H Marsh, ACSM Cpt, AAU Track Coach and Associate Executive Director JF Hurley Family YMCA