American record holder Ajeé Wilson to join other premier athletes to teach and inspire high school student-athletes during Nov. 16 camp
Ajeé Wilson en route last February to an American Indoor Record during the Jack & Lewis Rudin Women’s 800m at the 112th NYRR Millrose Games at The Armory. Photo by John Nepolitan
NEW YORK, November 5, 2019 – The Armory Indoor Track & Field Camp takes place on November 16 at The Armory New Balance Track & Field Center and provides high school track & field athletes an experience of a lifetime.
Track & field superstars Ajeé Wilson (current outdoor and indoor American record holder in the 800m), Sydney McLaughlin (at the age of 16 qualified for 2016 Olympics and is considered “face of USA Track & Field” as premier sprinter, hurdler), Drew Hunter (in 2016 at The Armory became national record holder in the high school indoor mile with a 3:58.25), Lawrence Johnson (American indoor record holder in pole vault, World Champion, Olympic silver medalist and 7-time U.S. champion) and others will join prominent coaches in the sport to offer high school students unsurpassed instruction.
“I’m super excited to spend the day sharing my experiences and hearing about theirs,” Wilson said about her role being an instructor to high school track & field student-athletes.
Other current track & field athlete who will be “coach for a day” at the upcoming Armory Indoor Track & Field camp include: Najee Glass (16-time NCAA All-American at the University of Florida); Athing Mu (current high school senior who broke the American 600m record at the 2019 USA Track & Field Indoor Championships with a 1:23.57); Strymar Livingston (in high school set indoor national records in both the 500m and 600m); Oliver Baker (11-time All-American at Stanford who just missed making the 2019 World Championship team in the 800m); Robin Reynolds (16-time All-American at the University of Florida); Thomas Johnson (noted New York High School champion in both long and triple jump and a 2-time state champion); Priscilla Frederick (competed in 2016 Olympics in the high jump and a silver medalist in the Pan American Games and 2-time All-American at St. John’s University); and Amina Smith (All-American at the University of Maryland in the high jump).
They will join current award-winning coaches Lisa Morgan (current head track & field coach at Bloomfield College, N.J.); Andy Capellan (head track & field coach at New Rochelle High School); Dwayne Evans (track & field coach for Team Jamaica); Bart Sessa, (who from 1996-2006 guided the Syosset boys team to 10 consecutive Section 8 cross country championships); Dominic Zanot (track & field coach at Harrison High School); Scott Menin, (the current head throw coach for AOC, an AAU club team in Pennsylvania); Tim St. Lawrence, (Director of acclaimed Hudson Valley Flying Circus in Orange County); and Matt Ellis (owner of Primal Athlete Training Center and Elite Throws Coaching in Rhode Island).
Last season, Wilson set the American indoor record in the 800m in 1:58.60 to win the Jack & Lewis Rudin Women’s 800m in the 112th NYRR Millrose Games at The Armory. In less than two weeks the New Jersey native will return to The Armory – her home away from home – this time as a top-flight track & field instructor.
It’s not every day students have a teacher who happens to be an American record holder and Olympian while your classroom is The Armory, home to the “Fastest Track in the World.”
Wilson recently took time off the track for an interview with The Armory.
Following is a question and answer session with Ajeé Wilson:
QUESTION: At what age did you know you could excel in track & field en route to a professional career, and how did you come to this conclusion?
WILSON: “I started believing I could really excel in track the summer after my sophomore year, so at 16. I’d made my first national team and placed 5th at the World Junior Championships in Moncton, Canada that year. Up until this point, track was still very much a hobby – something I loved to do because it was fun, and I loved competing. At Worlds, I saw how different my peers were in comparison. I didn’t think I trained as hard, I wasn’t as disciplined, and I wasn’t as invested in what I was doing. I walked away thinking about how much better I’d be if I applied myself in the same ways they did. I wanted to come back in two years and win.”
QUESTION: During the upcoming camp what will be the most important thing you can tell high school kids about being a success and at the same time keep their participation in track & field stress free, whether it’s simply in high school or perhaps beyond?
WILSON: “I think the most important take away will be there’s no cookie cutter path to success, and more importantly it’s okay to fail along the way. For me, I have my parents to thank for the outlook I have on success in track, and in any aspect of my life really. Success in track drives me, but it doesn’t define me. Being ‘good at running’ isn’t my biggest strength/attribute. The greatest thing I must give/contribute to people and the world isn’t my talent on the track. Track is simply the medium through which I can show those things. Remembering that doesn’t make me any less committed to what I’m doing, but it helps me balance the stresses, ups, and downs that come with running.”
QUESTION: When you were in high school, how much focus did you have on training, nutrition, maintaining a high academic standard and enjoying life as a teenager?
WILSON: “When I was in high school, my academics were my top priority. When needed, I’d miss practices for studying for big tests or skip other extracurriculars for important school projects. As for track and training, I got more focused as I got older, but it was a slow process. My parents helped largely with helping that shift. I ate well when I was home but wasn’t as good as I am now at curbing my love of candy and other sweet treats. With training, I laugh looking back on how my mom would park across the street to make sure I was doing what I was supposed to at practices. Enjoying life without the tag of runner was just as important to me then as it is now. Balance is so important with anything you do in life, so I somehow always found time to hang out with friends, was in a handful of clubs, and work at some points.”
QUESTION: What does it mean for you to come back to The Armory, where you’ve been so successful, and give advice to high school runners?
WILSON: “It’s so special to come back to The Armory to give advice to high school students. For one, it doesn’t feel this long since I was in the same position. I remember college students coming back and talking to us in high school, and how it affected me. So, I’m excited to be in the similar position and hopefully have a similar impact.”
QUESTION: Who was the person who gave you the best advice when you were in high school and what was that advice? And, was there a track & field athlete who you looked up to that gave you extra motivation?
WILSON: “Hands down I’d say my mom gave me the best advice in high school, although I can’t really pinpoint exact words or anecdotes that stuck with me. Instead, I just remember how she made me feel. She advised/taught me that I could get what I wanted in life by figuring out how, and then being committed to getting to that goal. Cut and dry – no excuses. The saying `Where there’s a will, there’s a way’ I think captures the sentiment best. To this day, whenever I’m faced with a tough decision, conflict, or have a goal I want to attain I think `what’s the solution?’ I figure out the best way to get the outcome that I want, and then I commit. When you’re committed to the end goal, finding ways to overcome speed bumps or obstacles that come along the way is just a tad bit easier. There are many ways to get where you want to go. You just need to figure it out.
“In high school, there were a handful of athletes I looked up to who inspired me. Many of whom were also in high school. I’d say I most looked up to Jillian Smith, who was an 800/miler from Southern regional though. She was the queen of the track when I first started high school, and I’d raced her a few times and admired how effortless it seemed to be for her. By my senior year, I wanted to be just as dominant in the state as she was.”
QUESTION: What are your goals for 2020?
WILSON: “I’m still working on my list of goals for 2020! Off season is coming to an end, so I’ve been thinking more and more about what I want to accomplish this year. On the track, my main goal is to be happy, healthy, and fast for 2020! Hopefully by the end of the season, that will involve being Olympic medalist (preferably gold). Off the track, I want to pick up a new hobby – I’m leaning towards learning how to sew!”
To register and learn more about The Armory Indoor Track, please go to www.armorycamp.org. To see the full list of coaches and their bios for the 2019 Armory Indoor Track & Field camp, please go to www.armorycamp.org/coaches.
Follow The Armory on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @armorynyc, or go to ArmoryTrack.com or Armory.NYC.
About The Armory Foundation
The Armory is a New York City non-profit institution, with the mission of "Keeping Kids on Track." Each season The Armory— the proud home of the NYRR Millrose Games — hosts more than 100 track & field meets and welcomes more than 220,000 athlete visits. Among its many youth sports and educational programs, including the acclaimed Armory College Prep program, The Armory runs the leading collegiate indoor track meet with the Dr. Sander Invitational, and hosts the largest high school indoor track meets with this year's 25th Hispanic Games, The New Balance Games, and the New Balance Nationals Indoors. The Armory also runs Columbia & NewYork – Presbyterian Indoor Marathon presented by New York Road Runners, which is the world’s largest indoor marathon relay. The Armory is also the home to the National Track & Field Hall of Fame and dozens of very large education-focused events. For more: Please visit Armory.NYC and ArmoryTrack.com.