Injury can’t stop Spaulding from achieving dream
CHESAPEAKE — When listing superlatives about Atiya Spaulding, be sure to list determined and persistent.
When an ACL injury during a basketball game back on Dec. 19 ended not only her basketball season by track as well, Spaulding didn’t accept the situation as the end to her athletic dreams.
Instead of sulking and feeling self-pity, Spaulding showed up at Marshall University in February for an indoor track meet. She took the opportunity to approach Ohio head coach Clay Calkins.
“I introduced myself and didn’t give him much of a chance to talk to me to tell me no. I told him my name and my stats and told him all my PRs and all my records and he said he’d like to get in touch with me. I gave him my email and here we are signing,” said Spaulding.
The persistence paid off on Wednesday as the Chesapeake Lady Panthers’ senior track standout signed a scholarship with the Bobcats.
“We knew she would be sitting here making this decision some day, we just didn’t know where it would be,” said Lady Panthers’ track coach Cathy Cheeks.
“She is the hardest working player I’ve ever been around. No one is more deserving.”
Spaulding — who was fifth at the Division II state track meet in the high jump last spring — holds the Lady Panthers’ records in the 100 and 200 meters, the 300-meter hurdles and the high jumper.
Her versatility isn’t lost on Spaulding. She wants to eventually be a heptathlete and combine seven events: 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump, 200 meters, 800 meters and javelin.
The only two events she has never attempted are the 800 meters and javelin.
“Eventually I want to be a heptathlete which participates in the heptathlon, but for now I’m starting off a sprinter and a jumper. We’ll see where I progress from there after recovery,” said Spaulding.
The recovery process has been faster than expected but it won’t allow her to participate this year. For now, she is just assisting her teammates in any way she possible.
“I kind of named myself assistant coach without anyone knowing. I just want people to love track as much as I love track. If I can help teach them anything then maybe they’ll love it as much as I do,” said Spaulding.
Besides track and basketball, Spaulding also played volleyball. And despite the injury, Spaulding said she would never change anything in her past.
“I would never change anything that has ever happened to me. It made me who I am. I’m stronger for my accident. It taught me how to deal with life when it throws me curveballs,” said Spaulding.
“It’s a hard thing to go through and getting your hopes up, but I wouldn’t change my injury for anything. It makes me who I am.”
Spaulding dealt with the injury with a positive attitude. She said she was blessed with a speedy recovery time, therapy and support system.
All that plus her persistence enabled her to realize the dream of running track at the collegiate level and at her favorite program where she will join former Chesapeake teammate Jordan Porter who is a sophomore shot put thrower for Ohio.
“OU offered me an I was lucky enough to take it. When I ran into (Calkins) at a Marshall indoor meet and exchanged information and emailed about a visit and talked about it on the visit and it was the perfect place. I hoped to go there since my freshman year. I love that place. It’s my dream school. It really is.”
Dreams can come true, especially if you have a little determination and persistence.