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Running for Another Chance

Juco runner Latheria Woods fights to her next scholarship.

By Winners OnlyPublished 5 years ago 4 min read
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Latheria Woods of Cerritos College

The above photo may show a young lady who appears to be carefree but at this moment, Latheria Woods is anything but.

The sprinter who is in the midst of her final season at Cerritos, a junior college in California, is looking for a place to continue her track and field career. This interview is to give you all a peak inside of the journey of a student athlete. We see the glam and glory of the top level athletes who seem to have scholarships thrown at them, but we rarely see the other side.

Woods is in a true fight for survival in the sport that she loves. Her biggest opponent is herself as she faces the challenge to finish faster and faster each race in hopes that a four-year school somewhere in the country will invest in her education in return for a spot on their team.

Latheria Woods with Up and Coming Track Star Sydney McLaughlin

Winners Only: How are you enjoying the season so far?

Latheria Woods: I’m actually really enjoying this season. I’m not where I want to be right now, but I’m still making progress and being motivated and working hard. I know I’ll be where I want to be by the end of season.

What was your goal at the start of the season and describe the highs and lows of fulfilling it?

My goal for the 100-meter dash was to get my time down to 12.5 seconds and it’s still my goal. For the 200—it’s 25.3 or below. When I finally PR’d in my 200 from 29 to 28 I was actually really happy, but to see everyone on my team traveling to the meets I couldn’t go to, it made me want to push harder to get where they are or even better... I’m going to stay focused and keep working hard no matter what.

How does track and field compare in popularity on your campus as opposed to the other sports?

It’s actually one of the top sports on my campus due to the fact that we are the number one junior college in California in track and field and we are the only junior college that travels to different states going against other four year universities.

Being that you are in your final year of junior college eligibility, are you stressed out about next year or are you certain about what's ahead?

I am stressed out because I want to continue doing track when I transfer but I’m just hesitant on if they will accept me due to the fact that my times aren’t as low as most university times are. That’s why I’m trying to push hard and get to where I need to be by the end of season

This season seems to be more about continuing your life on the track for you. Do you have a strong support unit that is assisting you to reach your goal or does it feel more like a solo deal?

I have a few people by my side. Some people think that I should just focus on schooling because they don’t think my times are good enough for the next level but I want to prove them wrong. My family supports me every step of the way. Even if they can’t make it to my track meets, they call me and make sure to say something positive whether I did my best or didn’t do too well. They make sure I don’t hold my head down.

So let's say the times aren't great when you're done, but you have the opportunity to present your case to why a program should take a chance on you. What could you contribute best in return for a scholarship?

I’m a hard worker and I’m determined. I set a goal for myself and I want to reach it. I show up to practice every day no matter what. I want to be that person that people thought wouldn’t be anywhere but ends up doing big things. Track is the only thing that keeps me going and motivated in the classrooms and with everything else in life.

I have a positive attitude. Even if I get upset about something I brush it off my shoulders and keep it pushing. I may not be where everyone else is, but I have come a long ways from where I started. It’s been a lot and I’m proud of myself. I know there’s still progress that needs to be made but I’m going to get there. I know I am.

Why is track and field so important to you?

Even though it’s a love and hate sport, it’s something that I can actually say I love and enjoy. Track gets your mind off of things. Just running and staying in shape, even lifting weights; and it’s part of a daily routine. It’s like you live on the track and that’s all you can talk about with people because of how much you love it.

I’ve tried other sports in elementary, junior high, and high school but once I got to track I realized this is the one for me, because it’s an individual sport but you are also on a team bonding with others. You're seeing new things, meeting new people, and setting new goals each time you get on that track.

Where are you competing this weekend and what would be considered a successful meet for you?

I am competing in the Aztec Invitational at San Diego State University. A successful meet would be to PR in both events in the 100 and 200. As long as I PR, that’s all that matters.

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