By Anais Hernandez, Sept. 6, 2022
Cal Poly Pomona’s very own track and field star, Ayana Fields, has been nominated by the National Collegiate Athletic Association as a ‘Women of the Year” candidate. The four-time NCAA Division II outdoor track and field champion prides herself on being a winner in the classroom and on the track.
For the average Bronco, running isn’t the sport of choice. Oftentimes, athletes are stereotyped as not being academically driven, but that’s not every athlete’s story. For Fields, her determination and confidence to be the best is her number one priority, earning her many distinctions.
The NCAA Woman of the Year distinction recognizes female college athletes that achieve the highest caliber in academics, athletics, leadership and community service. Out of 156 women across the nation, Fields made it past the conference nominee phase, where the average student-athletes GPA pool was 3.8.
Of these 156 nominees, ten from each of the NCAA’s three divisions are selected as national honorees. After this process, three finalists from each division create a pool of nine student-athletes who will be considered for the honor. The winner will be announced in January at the NCAA convention in San Antonio, Texas.
Her determination, commitment and winning mentality has her setting record after record for the women’s track and field team. “If I trust my fitness, then I can go ahead and push myself to my limit and go on to win a championship,” said Fields.
She led her team to its first track and field championship since 1998, making the season a historic one. In May, she won first place in the 100m, 200m and 400m races at the CCAA Track and Field Championships, making this her strongest performance of the season. She also exceeded her personal best time of 23.54 in the 200m and 53.44 in the 400m race for the NCAA Division II outdoor track and field championships.
The talented and athletic gene runs through her blood, as the Los Angeles native grew up in a family of athletes that encouraged her to become the best in the sport.
She began her track and field journey at the young age of six, took a short break from the sport and picked it back up in eighth grade where she began training with a professional personal trainer.
Fields continued to pursue the sport at Hamilton High School, where her natural talent on the track caught the attention of college sport recruiters. Fields’ twin brother, Ryan Fields, is a hurdler for the men’s track and field team at CPP. When they were both in high school, Bronco assistant track and field coach Darrell Smith Jr. recruited them on a collegiate athlete scholarship.
“I came on a school visit, and this was pretty much the only, main scholarship that was offered,” said Fields. “So, I was like, you know what, I like the overall feel of the campus. It wasn’t something too big and it seemed very calm, very nice and I just committed right away,”
After committing to CPP, Fields was determined to excel and put in the extra hours studying for her mental health and exercising for her physical health.
“It’s all about staying focused and prioritizing and balancing both. Making sure you plan your time. Dedicate yourself to turning in your assignments on time and studying for an exam, communicating with teachers whether you’re going to be absent because of a track meet and just planning your schedule around your practice … overall just give it 100% for each,” said Fields.
Fields recently graduated with her bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and is earning a master’s in exercise science at CPP. While her academic career is further along, the pandemic removed two years of athletic competition, making Fields a sophomore on the track.
“I take more pride in the sport, just because that’s where my passion is. But of course, in order to do this, you still need to do the academic side,” said Fields. “I like the sport more just because I love running, I love it so much and put a lot of effort and attention into it.”
Her hard work paid off as she was recognized by the prestigious CoSIDA Academic All-American honor, making her the sixth women’s track and field athlete in CPP’s history to earn this distinction since 2012.
Fields shares that she has bigger aspirations and goals for her sports career, dreaming to become an Olympic runner. She advises aspiring college athletes to always persevere and go after what they want.
“Always give it your all no matter what event and no matter what race. No matter what you do in life, it doesn’t have to be on the track, it can be just in life, but give it your all,” she said “if you hit a wall, figure out how to knock it down and keep going. Just don’t let any obstacles set you back. Don’t let anything or anyone discourage you from doing what you want to do.”
For more information on Ayana Fields and her track history, visit the CPP Athletics website.
Feature Image Courtesy of Ayana Fields.
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