Like many kids and adults out here, I grew up rooting for USC. Many of us are connected in different ways, from hometown L.A. pride, generational ties or just the recognition that few things are as special as being a Trojan.
My connection to USC started with my dad, who went to USC on athletic scholarship as a decathlete in the early 1990s. Being a first-generation Trojan, he had his own series of experiences that created opportunities for me to pursue my dreams. I always understood USC to be an institution unlike any other, and he made it clear that even if I worked hard and accomplished great things, there was no guarantee I would make it there. I knew that even great students and athletes don’t get into SC. That said, Trojan values learned a generation prior were instilled in our household, helping shape me and my brother. It was being held accountable in the classroom and in our athletics that created the opportunity to contribute to the USC community.
It was being held accountable in the classroom and in our athletics that created the opportunity to contribute to the USC community.
I’m now a senior, named Team Leader as a redshirt junior on the USC Track & Field Team. My core event is the hammer where I was a California State Champion and high school All-American. I am studying Real Estate Development in the Price School of Public Policy and applying to earn entry into Marshall next year to pursue a Master’s in Business. Having earned the opportunity to compete and study as a Trojan, my goal is to finish my career as one. I’ve also had a strong example from my older brother McKay. He graduated with his master’s from Marshall this last Spring after earning his undergrad degree at Cal. He finished his own USC story as NCAA runner-up, All-American, All-Time record holder in the shot put for USC and Cal and a competitor in the most recent Olympic Trials before retiring. I recognize in getting to this place, I have had the fortune of a support system in my mom Jennifer, dad Zak, brother McKay and Aunt Melodie.
My path to USC had some hiccups, roadblocks, and detours, all of which I believe I will use as life experiences after college. I didn’t start out as a track athlete. I played football, baseball and club soccer before putting a discus in my hand. Having always played team sports where I loved the camaraderie and competing alongside my brothers, I was surprised to find a lot of satisfaction in track and throwing. Many of the politics associated with team sports went away when it really became about achieving personal records and that there was objectivity in earning marks.
Many of the politics associated with team sports went away when it really became about achieving personal records and that there was objectivity in earning marks.
For running events it’s about time; height for vaulters and high jumpers and distance for jumpers and throwers. Nobody can take a mark from you, and it comes down to your best versus other competitors. I am always pushing to train smarter, get stronger and get technically better to throw my farthest.
Out of high school, I was recruited by several Power 5 schools other than USC and ultimately chose the University of Texas in Austin. UT turned out not to be where I was meant to be and I entered the transfer portal my freshman year. I was prepared to come home briefly and regroup, which felt like a personal fail at the time. Then, like many things in our lives, another door unexpectedly opened. I began having active conversations and meeting with many schools, but most importantly to me, USC was in the mix. I knew then that it was not just meant to be but it also turned out to be the best fit for me. I was raised with Trojan values and work ethic, which have enabled me to pursue my personal dreams.
I was raised with Trojan values and work ethic, which have enabled me to pursue my personal dreams.
There are so many relationships and experiences that USC has been a part of. I plan to continue living in Southern California after I finish competing for USC and complete my degrees with the goal of giving back so others may pursue their dreams as I have mine.
In the past year, I have founded The Sneaker Project L.A., a nonprofit organization with the mission of providing shoes to underprivileged youth in the Los Angeles Community. We believe that this act of kindness shows love, encouragement and empowerment, which are elements embodied by Trojans. I wake up every day grateful and in recognition of the unique opportunity I have and am going to use every moment to make the most of it.