|Sealy: sprinting through senior season|
|Written by Kristi Demonbreun, Sports Editor|
|Wednesday, 30 January 2013 19:10|
While most high school track stars are competing in the IHSA State track and field meet, Barbados native Sade Sealy was competing in the Carifta Games. The Carifta Games take the best athletes from all the Caribbean countries to compete for the title of The Fastest Athlete in the Carribean. In 2009, Sealy finished the 400-meter dash in fourth place, with a time of 54.84.
At the conclusion of Sealy’s high school career, she made the decision to come to the U.S. to continue competing. She received offers from other MVC schools and some Big Ten schools like University of Iowa and University of Kentucky, but when signing day came, she became an Illinois State Redbird.
ISU has plenty to offer, but the main factor in choosing to run for the ’Birds was fellow Barbados native and head track and field coach Elvis Forde.
“He was the first recruiter to ever call me in 2007, and when I heard he was from Barbados, I wanted to come here even more,” Sealy said. “I knew he would take care of me well, look out for me and give me good advice because he has been through this before.”
Forde left Barbados and began his collegiate career at Murray State, but graduated from Southern Illinois. After college, he competed in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, as well as the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Forde still holds the Barbados national record in the 400-meter dash.
“I don’t think we were the only option that she had, but I think that knowing me and the recommendations from [his former Barbados athletes] helped our cause tremendously,” Forde said.
In the past three years that Sealy has run for the Redbirds, she has won the indoor and outdoor MVC title in the 400-meter dash every year. Despite her success on the track, she had to overcome a lot to get used to life in the U.S.
“[The U.S.] is so different. Some nights I cried just because I missed home and I missed my mother,” Sealy said.
“Then, when it started getting cold, that was the real adjustment because I have never seen snow before and I have never been in temperatures below 70 degrees. That was something different for me; it was a little culture shock,” Sealy said.
Sealy only sees her family once every nine months when she gets to go home for the summer, but she does Skype them regularly. After the first two years, things got easier for her.
“I have always believed that from her freshman year, she is one of the best [athletes] from a national standpoint, but I also understand that leaving there and coming here was not always easy,” Forde said. “She was always ready to go home and see family, but I think she realizes now that family is always there, but these opportunities only come once.”
Sealy is sprinting into her final season as a Redbird, and when asked what her goals were since responded, “To win it eight times.”
Sealy is also shooting to qualify for nationals for the first time in her career at Illinois State. She has qualified for regionals all three years, but nationals is next on her list.
“I believe she has so much more to offer in regards to how fast she can run … I started to see a transformation in her of wanting to be at the next level, and I think that is what she is shooting for now,” Forde said. “Now I think she is realizing that ‘I can be an NCAA caliber athlete and I can be a world class type athlete.’”
Despite being so far from home, Sealy is hoping to stay in America after she graduates. If she can lower her times enough this season, she believes she has a good chance of running professionally.
She is on her final stretch of being an Illinois State Redbird, and the clock is running down before the track and field program loses another high profiled athlete. But Coach Forde has nothing but high hopes for her senior season.
“It’s all about competition and I know that anyone that is going to beat her is going to have to run real fast. She has really made a difference in our sprint group over the years, and we have had some good ones in my time here. So far, she is one of the very best,” Forde said.