This past week, I had the opportunity to interview Freshman Political Science Major and Division 1 Track athlete, Courtney James. I was first introduced to Courtney at the beginning of last semester when we took a European Politics course together. From that day on, I could tell that Courtney was hard working and had a strong desire to succeed not only in her classes, but in life. Even though we had a class together, I still felt that I didn’t know Courtney’s “story”, so our time spent together was focused on life before coming to La Salle, life at La Salle now, and plans for life after La Salle.
Courtney attended Burlington Township High School, which is about 40 minutes away from La Salle. She has an older sister who is a senior business major at William Paterson University as well as a twelve-year-old brother. Family has always been a very important aspect of her life and Courtney’s greatest support system. Along with family, track and field also plays an imperative role in Courtney’s life. Before trying out track for the first time only four years ago, she played soccer but because of multiple concussions, she decided to try something new. In high school, she competed in five different events: 55-meter hurdle, triple jump, 4X4 relay, long jump, and 400-meter hurdle race. Courtney was extremely versatile and could do just about any event. Even though she competed in a variety of events, hurdling is what she loves to do the most. She said, “I would rather hurdle for 400 meters than run for 400 meters.” Some probably see this as a somewhat unusual thing because hurdling is often seen as a huge obstacle to overcome. Senior year was a remarkable Track season for Courtney. She was selected to be a team captain, she qualified for the championship meet, and her team won the division. Courtney took all this momentum into the beginning of her Freshman year at La Salle until it all seemed to shatter in the blink of an eye…
During Courtney’s second practice of the fall season, she tore her meniscus in her dominant leg. When I asked her if this injury was a big setback, she shook her head in agreeance right away. Courtney ended up getting surgery almost immediately after the accident happened. She went through six weeks of physical therapy during winter break, and she has just recently been able to start practicing with her team again. I wanted to know if she had any goals set for this upcoming season and she told me, “I want to be an asset to the team and score.” Courtney is the only female hurdler on the La Salle Track & Field team this season, so scoring some points for the Explorers is very important to her. Courtney is determined to not allow her injury to hold her back from reaching her goals for this upcoming spring season.
I was really intrigued with her dedication and determination to be both a full-time student as well as a D1 athlete and we talked a little bit about this, too. She said that being a student and an athlete all at the same time is both physically and mentally draining. When she is not practicing or doing homework, she is catching up on her sleep. Even though track is one of her passions, school is extremely important to her as well. Courtney claims, “Track is a big part of my life, but it doesn’t define me.”
After finishing her undergraduate degree at La Salle, Courtney plans on going to Rutgers for law school. She wants to be a civil rights attorney, partly since equal rights for everyone in the United States of America has not been achieved, as of yet. Courtney said, “I don’t mind speaking out about these issues. I am willing to be the voice of others. I want to make a change.” She told me that February, Black History Month, is a time to recognize those who came before her because those are the people who made it possible for her, a young Black woman, to get an education and follow her dreams. Her face lit up when we started talking about all the women running to be elected officials and the diverse group of women who were recently voted into Congress. When she saw on the news that women from all different backgrounds and cultures were winning such prestigious positions, she thought, “that could be me one day,” and after coming to know so much about Courtney, I agree.