Here is one of many stories I hope to inspire both parent and youth athletes with as we together journey our sport of track and field. I believe in these stories we can find a common place to learn and grow from
This bio is courtesy of Natash Hastings.net
“ Natasha Monique Hastings was born on July 23, 1986 in Brooklyn, New York. Her parents are Joanne Hastings, nee Gardner (born in England and raised in Trinidad) and Charles Hastings (Jamaican), which means she could have had her pick of numerous countries to represent in track and field. It was however, her dream, once she became serious in track, to run for the USA. Natasha has a younger brother, Justin, who is ten years old, and is her biggest fan and sometimes biggest critic.
When Natasha or Tasha as most people call her, was nine years old, her mother took her to the Colgate Women’s Games in Brooklyn just for fun. It was there that her subsequent high school coach, Sean London, saw her and asked her mother if he could coach her. Her mother Joanne thought it was a joke because she said, “Tasha looked ridiculous on the track!” Coach London coached Tasha for a month, and worked just on fixing her form. Her first meet after one month with Coach London was MAC Championships at the Armory in New York City, where she won the 60m and 200m – no longer looking ridiculous! As Tasha progressed to the outdoor season winning practically every race she ran, her coach decided to run her in the 400m just to see how she would handle it. She ran with older kids and even though she did not win, it was decided then that her true calling was as a quarter-miler.
Track became Tasha’s life at a young age. Practically every weekend she and her mother would drive to meets all over the east coast. Her name was becoming a household name in New York, and people were starting to predict that she would go onto great things. Tasha’s time in Youth Track and Field culminated with her eventual win at the USATF Junior Olympics in the 400m in the Youth Girls division and as an eighth grader, she was invited to compete at the High School Indoor National Scholastics where she placed fifth in the 200m.
After attending private elementary and junior high schools, she began high school at A. Phillip Randolph Campus High School in New York City; one of the top ranked girls track teams in the country at the time. There she set the freshman national record in the 200m, which at the time was held by Marion Jones; the 300m; and later went on to set the national record in the 300m with a time of 37.77. Although she was very successful at AP Randolph, her time there was also plagued with a lot of injuries, and she was never able to sprint as well as or as much as she would have liked.
After placing third at the 2003 USA Junior Champs (52.09), the same year saw Tasha make her first foray into international track and field by being selected to the USA World Youth team to Sherbrooke, Canada. Although she was really nervous, it was such a thrill for her to finally be able to put on the USA uniform and compete for her country. She went on to win the 400m, and was the anchor leg on the winning USA Sprint Medley relay team.
2004 would see Tasha secure the runner up spot at the USA Junior Champs with a time of 52.92. Greater things were yet to come. She was heading to Grosseto, Italy as the reigning World Youth Champ to compete in the World Junior Championships. She became the World Junior Champion (52.04) and anchored the 4×400m relay team setting a World Junior Record of 3:27.60 in the process! What a way to end her high school career. After some years of injuries and disappointments, it was really great to go out on a high note.
University of South Carolina and Coach Curtis Fryes gamecocks, was the school for Tasha! “The Gamecock Divas” as she so aptly named her teammates. Not only did they run well, they looked good too! Little did she know that running track at the collegiate level and being in the Honors College would be such a challenge. Academics had always come easily for her, but now she had to figure out how to balance both on her own. She also had to adjust to being away from home, her mother’s cooking and her doting little brother. Training was different as well, but she was determined to be the best that she could be both on and off the track.
Freshman year would see Tasha set personal records in both the 200m and 400m indoors. She was runner up at the Indoor SEC Champs in the 400m, and felt that she was ready to challenge for the NCAA title. As luck would have it, this was not to be, and she tore her quad muscle in the 400m final. After weeks of therapy, Tasha was able to return to win the Outdoor SEC title (51.94), place sixth in the 400m at NCAA and was a part of the runner up 4×400m relay. In spite of her injury set back, she was able to finish the year on a good note by winning the 2005 USA Junior Nationals (51.34) and once again competing on the USA team at the Junior Pan Am Games, where she was the 400m champion and anchored the winning 4×400m relay.
2006 was probably the worst of Tasha’s track career. She was plagued with a string of bad luck during the off season, starting with tendonitis in her ankle that required her to be in an orthopedic boot for two months. Followed by a respiratory infection, that further prolonged her return to practice. When she had to go to a last chance meet to try to qualify for NCAAs, it was pretty evident that her 2006 Indoor season was going to be a wash. Little did she know that injuries would hamper her until about two weeks before Outdoor SECs. To come away from that meet placing second (52.00) was just as good as winning considering she had done practically nothing to prepare. NCAAs would see her capture sixth place in the 400m and eighth in the 4×400m relay.
If 2006 was the worst year, then 2007 would have to be the best so far! What a year! Her mother always tells her that sometimes you have to go through the worst to appreciate the best. She came back to school a new Natasha. No nagging injuries, all was well in classes, and a new attitude. This was going to be her year. She was going to prove all the skeptics wrong and that she did! It wasn’t easy though. Her family had just moved to Georgia and she would have loved to have spent the entire Christmas vacation with them but “business is business” and Tasha had some business to take care of! She drove back and forth from Georgia to South Carolina twice during the Christmas holidays to work out.
She woke up early every morning to do morning runs and then pushed herself and gave her all at practice. It all paid off!! Tasha went home to New York for the New Balance Collegiate Invitational and won the 400m in 51.70, a personal record at the time, and anchored the 4×400m to a win with the fastest collegiate time for the year. She was on her way! She went on to win the SEC Championships (51.63), and felt herself getting closer and closer to an NCAA title and possibly the record. NCAA’s was an experience she will never forget. Crossing the line and seeing the clock adjust to a new National Record of 50.80 was just unbelievable! She was really running for the win, so to look up and see the record was like “having her cake and eating it too!” The icing on the cake was being able to anchor the South Carolina 4×400 to victory with a 50.67 split.
On to Outdoors and the victories just kept coming. Through it all, Tasha just had to keep remembering that nothing is done on your own. All the years of injury and doubt were now beginning to pay off. It was during this time that she came to understand all that she had been through. Tasha realized that this was God’s plan for her, and he was simply preparing her for something she could have never imagined. One of the most satisfying victories during the Outdoor season would have to be her wins at the East Regional Championships (both regional records). To win the 400m in 50.23 was incredible, to turn around forty five minutes later and win the 200m in 22.62 was just out of this world. For years she had to forgo speed to stay healthy, and she was now able to show the world that she could also compete competitively in the 200m.
Tasha went into the NCAAs knowing that this was her race to lose! As much as she wanted to run the infamous 49 seconds, first and foremost, she had to win the race. The rounds went by pretty easily, and she was really confident going into the final. Through it all, she has had a lot of supporters from family to friends to coaches and this was the moment they had all been waiting for! Her time of 50.15, although a little disappointing (not 49) was the second fastest time ever on the collegiate level and she had successfully competed undefeated all season. Tasha was finally the Indoor and Outdoor 400m champion.
It should be mentioned that while all of this was happening, some things like school and the Honors program did not change. Tasha takes a lot of pride in the work that she does in the classroom. It was difficult at times to balance everything, but she will someday be a doctor so she knew she could not let her grades fall. All the hard work paid off. Not only did US Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) vote her National Women’s Track Athlete of the Year, she was also named South Eastern Conference (SEC) Co-Scholar Athlete of the Year!
Going into USA Championships, Tasha knew it would take 49 seconds to win and believed she was right there but it would all come down to the execution of the race. The preliminary rounds went well, but it was a little nerve racking running with some of the best quarter milers in the world. She tried to keep herself relaxed and focused on her race. Looking back, Tasha says she knows where she went wrong, and is working really hard to correct those mistakes, but to take second in the USAs is nothing to be taken lightly either. And to actually run 49 seconds (49.84) was the best feeling in the world! She had now run the fastest time ever by a collegiate athlete!
Going to the World Championships should have been the experience of her life! But while it was great to put on the USA uniform again and be a part of the greatest team in the world, her legs could go no more and she did not make the final of the 400m. She was honored to take part in the preliminary round of the 4×400m Relay to help her team advance on to the final, however, she did not compete in the final. Words cannot describe how she felt but she will be back with fresher legs this time and with the mentality and preparation of a professional athlete.
Now a professional athlete with Nike and loving it! She made the decision to move to Florida to train with Coach Brauman because she felt she needed to be in a professional setting with other professional athletes. Her training partners really make her work hard and although it is said that the transition from a collegiate athlete to professional is tough, she is not going to let that deter her. Her ultimate goal this year is to make the USA Olympic team in the 400m and run competitively at the Bejing Olympics!
It has been a long journey from Colgate Games in Brooklyn to where she is now. But through it all, she has always had her faith and the greatest supporting cast who kept her motivated even when she wanted to give up. Dreams really do come true!!”