Jayda Bagstad – Hamline Track & Field

“I did not know if I wanted to continue athletics when I started looking at colleges. Little did I know I was actually getting recruited by several Midwest schools at all different levels. It was shocking to me because I did not think I was good enough to compete at the collegiate level. I remember cleaning my room one day and my sister found a letter addressed to me from Hamline University Track and Field Program. After a lot of convincing, I opened the letter. I read the letter and found out that Hamline University Track and Field program wanted me to be a part of their team. It was surreal. I didn’t even think of continuing athletics after high school. I reached out to the coach and told him that I finally opened the letter and I would like to learn more about the program and what my experience would be like on campus. About a year later, I applied to the school and got accepted. I told the coach right away. I was so excited to continue a sport in college and that I would be an important addition to the Hamline University Track and Field Program.”

“In high school, I always had this saying “Leave your mark”. I knew that I had to leave an impact on every person I met at every place I was. It was important to me. When it came to sports, I knew that I was supposed to be a leader. I did achieve that in high school. As I learned more and more about track, there was something in me that I knew it would make me who I am. Leave your mark. As soon as I joined the team, the culture of the program changed for the better. My first year, there were maybe 5 athletes of color, myself included. After my sophomore year, more and more athletes of color joined and it made the team so much better. The relationships and sense of togetherness is what made us successful and put the program on the map. I had a pretty successful three years at Hopkins High School on the Track and Field team. Making it to finals and placing in the top five at every meet was a goal for me. I did that at every meet. I knew that I had to perform well to make myself and my teammates better. Throwing was almost natural to me. I was gifted. I knew I wasn’t the best, but that didn’t stop me from trying to be the best.”

“My biggest obstacles I had to overcome throughout my career were toxic teammates and toxic coaches. [There were instances where coaches] would treat me differently because of my race and what I looked like as an athlete. This still hurts me today. At times, coaches also blamed team drama on me because I was a person of color and ‘black people like drama’.” 

“I had always had a hard time blending in the team and being the odd one out most of my life. It has simply been because I look different from the rest of my teammates. Now I am a senior, it has always been a goal for me to make the program more inclusive and inviting to everyone. I feel like this will make people better on and off the field. They will all grow as individuals and be better in general. Having toxic teammates is very common. It is hard to call people out and hold them accountable for their actions, but it has to be done so you can feel comfortable in a place where you actually belong.”

“As a Black athlete, I have heard every excuse in the world about why I do not deserve this or that. Being a Black athlete, I have to try 10 times harder I have to put in more time, do more reps. As a young Black athlete, I learned that people will treat me differently. No matter what I do, I will always shock them in one way or another. I have to appear to be my best no matter where I go or I will be referred to as lazy. I have learned so many things and I am proud that I have never let my race stop me from achieving my dreams. I am a proud Black athlete. No one will ever be able to take that away from me.”

“Track and Field is individual because you have to do your best to be good, and then your performance can impact the team. When I step into the ring, it is all about me. The rest will fall into place. Track has taught me that I need to be selfish to better those around me. It has also taught me to celebrate your teammates’ successes. Even if their new best throw is one inch further, that is big. Every inch counts. It is kind of like growth. Everyone grows at their own pace. Celebrate everything. It will make you and your teammates better.”

To my younger self: As a Black athlete, you are given this platform to educate and help those around you. You are a strong Black woman. You will always be that. Do not change yourself because people told you to change. Be proud of who you are and where you came from Don’t look back. Keep going.”

“I want to see more women coaches all over the world. There are millions of women who play sports, why are we not represented in the coaching staff? I want to one day be a head coach of an athletic team. I understand what players are going through. I can help them become better at the sport. I want to help people. I also want to see more women coaches at all levels. Through elementary traveling programs, AAU, High School, NCAA, and Professionals. “

“I believe that athletes can best promote change in the sports by speaking up and using their platform. Especially with our generation and the use of social media, we all have different platforms. Imagine if everyone shared their story and 100 different people shared the story. Each person has a different platform. It will reach a new audience. More people will share and want to see change or help in some way. Speak up now Learn more. Be better. Do something.”

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