Christopher Newport senior women’s track sprinter Shona Smith is a business management major who can be found on the track, studying in her cozy and warm building, volunteering at a local elementary school, and enjoying the art of poetry. Smith and her track & field teammates opened the indoor campaign last weekend and will return to competition following the holiday break in mid-January. INTRODUCING … Shona Smith.
Briefly, what is your background in the sport you play?
I've competed in track and field since my sophomore year of high school, outdoor season to be exact.
What is your major in college, and what is the most important thing you learned in that discipline?
My major is business management, with minors in leadership studies, Spanish, and international culture and business. The most important thing that I've learned is that aiming to be an efficient leader, whether in the work place or on a team, is a process where you learn how to be effective with every choice you make, learn from mistakes, think with an open mind, and know how to treat people the right way.
What is your favorite spot on campus?
My favorite spot on campus is tied between the outdoor track and the study room in my building, both of which aren't occupied when I'm there at night. My freshman year I was told by Coach Lou to "leave all my worries at the gate" when coming to practice. The track is like a safe haven for me. I go there late at night to clear my mind when things in life are getting rough. I go to the study room because no one is ever there, and it's always warm since the thermostat is locked.
Outside of your home and campus, where is your favorite place visit?
I went to Barcelona, Spain this past summer for an internship and fell in love. It was a break from how hectic each day is for a student-athlete, everything was peaceful. I would walk two miles to work every day, practically lived at the beach, and connected with other athletes over there. I made running to Parc Ciutadella an every day thing and did leg workouts there while locals played music in the nearby gazebo.
Other than your team, what organization (s) do you participate in (on campus or off campus)?
I am a member of Alpha Kappa Psi, the Society of Human Resource Management, Peninsula Women's Network, and volunteer with a second grade class at Deer Park Elementary.
Briefly describe the most memorable experience during your collegiate athletic career.
Where do I begin...winning conference the first year in the CAC my freshman year, watching Jeff Dover win the 800m at conference his freshman year, Logan Harrington every time she runs, Dominique Torres jumping his way to the podiums at nationals, and so much more. Every time my teammates compete at their upmost best is memorable to me, the positivity affects everyone. I just started triple jump last year and being able to have improved by over a meter within that year, along with scoring points to help the team, was a great experience as well.
Other than your family members, who was the most influential person in your life?
Coach Eric Johnson, my high school coach. He was, and still is, a father figure to me. He still supports me at my meets, introduced me to the love for the sport, and went beyond being my coach by uplifting me as a young lady by taking me under his wing. It's not too often that a coach can pick up on when something is going wrong outside of track and sit down to talk to you about it. I just recently went to support his middle school team at a track meet at Todd Stadium and it felt like old times. I have coaches here at CNU that are like that as well, they know who they are and I love them to death.
What is the most important societal issue facing college students?
Everything is a competition. If you don't have your life figured out by the time you reach junior year then adults begin to apply pressure on you about it. And finding yourself in a world where everything is rapidly changing can be difficult at times. You're expected to do great things, to be this great person, but no one ever tells you how to get to that point. It's a learning process, trying to fit in with the flow of things while standing out.
If you could change any one item in the world (in your personal life, school, community, amateur or professional sports, national/international issue, etc.), what would it be, why, and how would you do it?
Prejudice and racism wouldn't be a thing, everyone would learn how to love and respect each other despite our differences. I experiened it as a child, but not here at CNU. Learning how to appreciate everyone and their cultures, religions, where the come from, etc makes a big difference in the world. There also wouldn't be wars, global warming, refugees not having a safe place to call home, or poverty, but I was limited to only describe one thing so I'll keep it at that for now.
What is your favorite form of entertainment?
Spoken word and poetry events because it allows for people to express how they feel and what's on their hearts in a different way that everyday conversation. I love the art.
If you could give one piece of advice to elementary school children, what would that advice be?
It is okay to mess up, that's what an eraser is for, to keep trying until you figure it out.
Outside of the CAC, who or what is your favorite sports person or team?
Allyson Felix, Sanya Richards-Ross, and Manteo Mitchell. They all faced challenges and setbacks during their athletic careers but never gave up. Manteo Mitchell finished his leg of the 4x4 with it being broken, if that isn't inspirational about drive and dedication then I don't know what is.
Name three (3) people, real or fictional, living or dead, that you'd like to have dinner with (and why)?
Maya Angelou, may she rest in peace, because she is my favorite poet and always spoke wise words that uplifted many. Wilma Rudolph, may she also rest in peace, because she was born prematurely, contracted infantile paralysis at the age of four, wore a brace until she was nine, and wore an orthopedic shoe for two years. She won gold in the 1960 Olympics in three events and bronze in the 1956 Olympics. Lastly, Rosa Parks, my she rest in peace, because her bravery was remarkable and inspires me to be as bold as I am to this day.