U.S. to the Caribbean to Europe, former TCU sprinters and their coaches
are leading the pack in professional track.
shouldn't have trouble remembering the date of the biggest race of his
life. But if he forgets, the former TCU track star can just check a calendar
on the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis, where Aug. 25 is now Kim Collins
Day. That's the day this summer he took first place in the 100-meter sprint
at the World Championships at Saint-Denis, France.
In one of
the rare moments when he wasn't going anywhere fast, Collins, 27, took
time recently to recount the ways the people of St. Kitts and Nevis have
honored him since he returned home. The island federation in the Caribbean,
with a population of about 38,000 (smaller than the University of Texas
at Austin), even got the government involved.
to having a day named for him, the two-time Olympian got a meeting with
the prime minister. A company gave him an SUV. And an athletic facility
will bear his name. Even before the race, Collins was a hero on the islands.
The government gave him a house and graced his likeness on a postage stamp.
Motorists also now drive on the Kim Collins Highway.
entire nation has come together to celebrate," Collins said. "This
is the biggest thing that ever happened to the island."
But the victory
that had people cheering in the streets happened by the thinnest of margins.
Collins, a three-time NCAA champion at TCU in 2000-01, was clocked at
10.07 seconds in the 100-meter final at the World Championships. A lean
at the last instant enabled him to edge three runners who finished in
of a second brought $60,000 in first-place prize money and made him the
fifth man to win a World Championships 100-meter title (Carl Lewis and
Maurice Greene did it three times). Not bad for a guy who started running
track when he was about 14 to impress the girls.
Championships ended up being an informal TCU reunion. Those who were there:
Patton (2000-01), a 10-time All-American during his two years at TCU.
He took second place – missing first by a hundredth of a second – in the
men's 200 with a time of 20.31. He did strike gold as part of the winning
U.S. 4x100 relay team.
- TCU senior
Michael Frater (2001-03), junior Brandon Simpson (2003) and former Frogs
Jon Drummond (1990-91), Ricardo Williams (1999-00), Khadevis Robinson
(1995-98) and Bev McDonald (1992-93). Simpson's third-place effort as
part of Jamaica's 4x400 relay team was the best showing for the group.
TCU coach Bubba Thornton (1982-94) was the head coach for the U.S. team,
current TCU coach Monte Stratton (1995-03) was on hand as a personal coach
for Collins, Patton and Williams, and former TCU sprint star Raymond Stewart
(1985-89) coached McDonald – a two-time Olympian – and men's 400 winner
don't know if they could have had the track meet without TCU," Stratton
said. These days, it's hard to find a professional track meet that doesn't
feature some Frog legs. And outside of Robinson in the 800, it's ex-TCU
sprinters who are making a big impact.
the U.S., track is not that big. I can walk in the store and no one knows
who I am," said Patton, who has been running professionally since
leaving TCU in 2001. "But in Europe, I can be walking down the street
and I'll get stopped by at least a dozen kids asking for an autograph.
It's amazing to walk into a stadium and they go crazy when your name is
called. I'm living the professional life that you see over here with football
qualified for the Texas state track meet in high school, and he was recruited
only as a long jumper and triple jumper when he started his college career.
But he won a U.S. title in the 200 this year and ended his outdoor season
ranked No. 1 in the world in the event.
took up track because his high school football coach thought it would
help him get faster and because it might enhance a college application.
Then he captured U.S. titles in the indoor and outdoor 800 in 1999 and
missed qualifying for the Olympics by one spot in 2000.
35, has a hole in his spine, the result of being born with spina bifida.
Still, he won a gold medal as part of the U.S. 4x100 relay team at the
2000 Olympics and a silver in the same event at the 1996 Olympics.
think having gone to TCU and having success prepared me to make decisions
to further my career," said Drummond, who ran on TCU's national championship
4x100 relay in 1991. "The fact I had so much success at TCU motivated
me to pursue my dream, and that was to go become an Olympian."
are the former Frogs? Only 12 runners in history have run faster than
the 9.92 100 that Drummond ran in 1997. Based on times recognized by the
International Association of Athletics Federations, only 49 runners have
covered the 100 in 10.0 seconds or faster. Drummond is joined on that
list by former Frogs Stewart (9.96), Percival Spencer (9.98), Collins
(9.98) and Patton (10.00).
seven NCAA titles in the 4x100 relay, and the school has had an All-American
in one of the short sprints every year since 1985. But how did a program
that didn't produce an individual national champion until 1987 become
a hotbed for sprinters?
like the guy who robs the bank knows where the money is … we know where
the speed is," Stratton said. "We always have a connection to
alert us to speed."
that Stewart came to run for TCU after anchoring Jamaica's second-place
4x100 relay team and placing sixth in the 100 at the 1984 Olympics. The
Jamaica native said he picked TCU to a large degree because the Fort Worth
weather is similar to that on the island where he grew up.
won five NCAA titles at TCU, and his high school buddy, Andrew Smith,
was on three national championship 4x100 relays. Since then, McDonald,
Spencer and many others have come to TCU from Jamaica and earned All-America
year we were pretty much performing at a level like no other college in
the U.S.," said Stewart, who was a four-time Olympian. "Most
of the younger kids I know back home, all they could talk about was TCU.
Getting recruits to TCU was pretty easy."
provided a big assist by helping design full-body suits that made TCU's
sprinters the envy of the track community.
think that changed the whole track and field world," he said. "Once
we wore it, everyone in the world wanted it. Now if you don't have them,
you're not in tune. You're a PE program, not a track program."
hard to tell which TCU is -- it's the track program leading the pack.
Riddle '94, a former walk-on cross country and track runner, is a sports
copy editor at The Dallas Morning News. Comment on this story at firstname.lastname@example.org.
basketball. With a recruiting class rated among the nation's top 30,
the Frogs welcome promising players onto an already talented team. Veteran
guards Nucleus Smith and Corey Santee should provide a steady hand in
the backcourt, while Corey Valsin and Chudi Chinweze, right, provide muscle
in the paint. Add newcomers Marcus Shropshire, Femi Ibikunkle, Aaron Curtis,
Art Pierce, Blake Adams and Neil Dougherty Jr., and TCU has the makings
of a dangerous team.
TV. GoFrogs TV, a weekly video magazine featuring behind-the-scenes
coverage of Horned Frog athletics, launched in August. For $7 a month,
subscribers receive documentary-type features via the Internet, and unlike
steaming video, which can appear jerky, the program is much like watching
a DVD on a computer screen. More than 120 Frog fans have signed on. To
subscribe, visit www.gofrogstv.com.
2003 has been a record-breaking year. In October, the Frogs claimed their
16th victory, the most ever in a single season, and the wins keep coming.
Led by juniors Dominika Szabo, left, and Ellen Rehme and senior Tori Barlow,
the Frogs have also settled nicely into their new home, the University
Recreation Center, where they have won nine of 13 matches. The team went
on to win 20 games and reach the second round of the C-USA Tournament,
the program's best finish ever.
basketball. When last seen, the Lady Frogs were up on No. 1-ranked
UConn at halftime on the Lady Huskies' home floor in the second round
of the NCAA Tournament. The Frogs fought hard, but UConn's superior depth
prevailed. That might not be the case if the matchup happens again this
year. Coach Jeff Mittie has arguably his deepest team, entering the season
ranked in the top 20 for the first time in school history. Led by junior
post Sandora Irvin and senior captains Ebony Shaw and Tracy Wynn, the
Lady Frogs will face one of the nation's toughest schedules, with home
dates against Arkansas and Tennessee.