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The Inside Track with Shakira Garner

Courtesy:           Release: 02/21/2013

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Every Bethune-Cookman student-athlete has a story...a story to share with the Wildcats nation. Throughout the course of the indoor/outdoor track & field season, will take an inside look at each of the men's and women's student-athletes for track & field, detailing the story each has to offer. One-by-one, we hear from them. These are the Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats...

To lead off "The Inside Track" series, let us find out more about junior multi-event athlete Shakira Garner...

Hometown: Philadelphia, Pa.

High School: Ben Franklin HS

Major: Political Science

Grad School: Transformative Leadership

Something you do before every race... I listen to Gospel music

Favorite Gospel Artist... Yolanda Adams

Favorite Gospel Song... The Battle

A song on your iPod nobody would believe I have... Beethoven's Fifth Symphony

Favorite Movies... Love & Basketball; The Wood; White Chicks

Favorite place in Philadelphia to eat... Ishkabibble's

Favorite place in Philly to get a cheese steak... Ishkabibble's

Best thing about being in Florida... The sun, and it stays warm

Favorite Athlete... LeBron James

Favorite Pro Sports Team... Philadelphia Phillies

Favorite midnight snack... Hershey's with almonds

If someone walked into my bedroom, the first thing would notice is... That it's purple. I have nothing but purple things in my room.

I never thought that I would be... In graduate school

Favorite food... Soul food because I love yams, greens and fried chicken

Best thing about being a part of the B-CU track & field program... It's just like family. It's a "home" away from home.

Farthest place from home I've been... Daytona Beach, Fla.

If I could live anyplace in the world, then it would be... Los Angeles

If I could go back in time, then I would want to meet... Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune

In five years, I want to be... Finishing law school

When did you start running track?

I started running when I was in high school. I was about 14 or 15 years-old. I started out doing the 100 and 200, but I also used to long jump as well. It was really just something to do, and not really me wanting to be a star at track & field at all. I really didn't know about track at all. I just did it because I was forced to do it.

What did you do before running track?

I was actually a cheerleader. My cheerleading coach was also the track coach. She saw something in me and approached me about it. So, I said "ok, I'll do it."

What inspired you to stay with track?

It was just fun for me, to be honest. I was close with everyone in the sport, and I just had a lot of fun. I also really enjoyed the sight-seeing when we traveled with AAU. It was almost like a reward.

What's the best thing about running track to you?

I think running track has made me more disciplined in the classroom. Honestly, the whole sport is about discipline. You have to train your body to do this and that, and train yourself to get up. You're very competitive in the sport, and it kind of carried over into the classroom. It has me on the edge of my seat because I'm highly competitive now. I challenge my professors. I challenge my fellow classmates. It just has me eager.

What is it about Coach Cooper that made you want to run track at Bethune-Cookman?

I actually walked onto the team, and I sent him an email one day. I was already a student at B-CU. He invited me out to practice one day, and I performed well, I thought. I was so out-of-shape, but I practiced for about a week or two. He kept me here, though. I had trust and faith in him that he could take me to the next level because I was really slow from being out-of-shape.

What did Coach Cooper do to get you back in shape?

He allowed me to continue coming to practice and really working me out harder and pushing me to go farther than I've ever gone before. We really built a good student-athlete/coach relationship, and I noticed myself getting faster. He helped me to build my self-confidence, and it all progressed from that point onward.

How did you end up coming to Bethune-Cookman?

It's simple - I wanted to get out of Philadelphia. I had been living there all my life. So, I decided that I wanted to go to college somewhere that the weather was hot. It basically came down to Los Angeles or Florida. Then I saw Bethune-Cookman, and they had the major that I really wanted to major in. I came here on a leap of faith because I didn't know anyone. Even if I had to do it all over again, I would still pick Bethune-Cookman.

What is something about Coach Cooper that nobody else would know?

That's a tough question because they're so much about him people don't know. But I would say "he has a kind heart". He's very kind. He has more faith in his student-athletes than they have in themselves. He may have a hard shell, but he's really kind.

What would you tell someone interested in B-CU Track & Field?

I would tell them this is the place that you want to come and run. Coach Cooper cares about his student-athletes on and off the track. He transforms them into great men and women for life, as well as success on the track. Coach Cooper is the type of person that really wants to see you succeed. He wants you to go into the real world and be successful. Some coaches out there are all about their sport, and all they care about is winning. But with Coach Cooper, it's not just all about track & field. It's also about you, the person.

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