On Saturday, some friends and I took a trip to Birmingham, AL to check out the 2016 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships, the other March Madness. To say watching some of the nation’s top athletes perform was exciting is an understatement. Men and women ran, jumped and threw their ways to meet, track and personal records. Oregon would claim the men’s and women’s titles, but that doesn’t mean that athletes from other schools didn’t give some outstanding performances. One of the particularly exciting events and performances was in the Women’s 60m Dash. With a field packed with formidable, experienced contenders a freshman took to her blocks and brought home the NCAA trophy, in record time. University of Texas’ Teahna Daniels showed what March Madness is all about when she stunned everyone by racing to the finish line in 7.11 seconds, the fastest time ever run by a freshman. Take a look at her blistering speed below:
While Daniels’ upset victory may have been unexpected for her competitors and many attendees, it was not at all surprising for her. Daniels, who plans to major in Nutritional Science, came into the meet believing in herself and the hard work that she put into her preparation. The belief and hard work paid off in a major way. I could go on and on about how great Daniels and her accomplishment are, but I figured you’d appreciate it more if you heard directly from her. So take a look at what Teahna Daniels has to say about being a National Champion and life as a student-athlete:
How does it feel to be an NCAA National Champion as a freshman?
It feels amazing to be a NCAA Champion. I honestly still can’t believe that I accomplished such a huge goal of mine. I never thought I’d be doing so many great things in such an early period in my college track career.
You should be proud. Did you set out to win the Championship at the beginning of the season or was it something that gradually became a realistic goal for you?
As a senior in high school, I’d always joke around with my coach about winning a NCAA championship title. For it to actually happen is a dream come true. Right before NCAA’s I talked with my strength coach and told him that if I ran 7.1 anything I would be satisfied with my first indoor season, so to come back with a win is such an amazing thing.
What were some of the things you did to prepare yourself to be National Champion?
I prepared myself to become a National Champion by focusing on what I had to do to get my mind and body ready for my race. I just continued with my training and regular schedule and when it came to race day I tried to stay relax and not get too over anxious about finals.
Well that clearly worked pretty well for you! What are your goals for the outdoor season?
My goals for outdoor season are to consistently achieve personal records and to continue the success path that I am on right now. I’ve also set a goal to make it to Outdoor National Championships in 100m, 200m and 4x100m races.
Lofty goals. I love it. Let’s switch gears a little. Before you’re an athlete, you’re a student. What’s the hardest thing about being a student-athlete?
The hardest thing about being a student-athlete is the time management. Finding time to manage practice, weight-lifting, studying, attending classes, trying to have a social life, and sleeping can get a little wild. To help keep balance, I always try to write up what I have to do on Sundays to prepare for the week ahead. My academic advisors help me out a lot with planning my weekly schedule.
Balancing the expectations as a student and athlete are definitely difficult, but hang in there, it’ll be worth it. What’s the best thing about being a student-athlete?
The best thing about being a student-athlete might have to be the support that I receive on a daily basis. Whether it is from my coaches, academic advisors, parents, family members or just fans of UT athletics. It’s always humbling to know that there are people put there cheering me on.
What advice do you have for other student-athletes trying to balance the demands of being a student and an athlete?
Advice I would give other student-athletes would be to just stay relaxed. You might not pass every exam or quiz but as long as you’re giving your all don’t stress too much about things you can’t change at the moment.
That’s great advice for adults too! What advice do you have for middle and high school kids who hope to one day do the things you are doing in school and on the track?
Advice I have for the middle and high school future track stars would be to enjoy the process. It might be rough at first and you might not win every race but just take the loss and learn from it and try again next time. Don’t ever beat yourself down.
More excellent advice. Why do you think it is important for girls and women to be involved in sports?
I feel like it is important for girls and women to be involved in sports because men have always been the main focus in sports and guys tend to underestimate women when it comes to being physically strong. Girls and women can be just as successful in sports as men, if not better than them. So we need more images of girls and women doing just that.
Finally, one of our favorite questions here, who would you say has been the most influential (or favorite) GladiatHer™ for you?
I would definitely say my mother, Linda Latson, is the strongest GladiatHer™ I know. She is a single mother, daycare business owner of Kidz College, and she is also working on getting her Ph.D., while raising and supporting her 4 children. She is a great inspiration to everyone in our community in Orlando, Florida. I would believe I get my hard work and dedication to be the best I can be from her.
It’s clear that Teahna Daniels is a force to be reckoned with. She’s focused, talented and has an admirable role model as a prime example for what it means to be a GladiatHer™. Thank you Teahna for sharing a part of your story with the GladiatHers.com audience. I’m sure many will be keeping an eye on you this outdoor season and well into your collegiate career. Be sure to follow Teahna on Twitter and Instagram.