Student track star inspired by coaches to lead

Alyse Nelson
Staff Writer

She did not seriously consider Troy while she was picking out her dream university when she was in high school.
But, after receiving a track scholarship from a university in South Carolina she applied to Troy under the urging of her mother who is a Troy graduate. She got in and this, she said was “not her plan,” but rather “God’s plan.”
Tiffany Slater, a senior broadcast journalism major from Columbus, Ga., continued her track career as a walk-on during her freshman year at Troy University and went on to gain a track scholarship for the following years.
“My proudest moment (at Troy) would probably be competing at the outdoor Sun Belt Conference Championship my freshman year,” Slater said.
She explained that after competing and scoring she was eligible to receive a track scholarship.
“I come from a single parent household and college costs a lot of money, so I felt like I made my mom proud and my family proud,” Slater said.
Slater explained how she began running tack.
“I started running track in the 7th grade,” she said.
I tried out for the basketball team. Me and my momma came back to check the list and my name was not on it. At the bottom a name had been whited out – I looked at the back of the thin sheet of paper and it was my name.
That same year I tried out for track and I made the track team and I played through middle school and high school.”
Though Slater does not take all the credit for ending up at Troy, she has not regretted the decision.
“My favorite thing about Troy is the environment,” Slater said. “We have small classrooms, so I can interact with my teachers. Our track team is not too big or small, so our coach can work with us individually. At other universities I would not have this opportunity.”
Today, Slater is a 400 meter sprinter, as well as running the 4×400 relay, as she has for the duration of her time at Troy.
“My freshman year, I ran on the 4×400 relay team, and we placed at the Sun Belt Conference,” Slater said. “Junior year I ran on the 4×400 and we placed at conference. The other track meets don’t count, sadly.”
“Teamwork is really big, especially when it comes to the 4×4. You have to trust each other, you have to know when the other person is coming in and when to take off,” Slater says of her involvement on the track team.
“I’ve always been a team player in everything. It’s a great feeling running with three other girls because you’re motivating each other and pushing other and you’re not just focused on yourself. On a team you have to work together to get that low time you want,” Slater states with a smile. “This year I’m on a team with a junior and two freshmen, so they look up to me and I like teaching them.”
“She is very active on campus,” said Jill Lancaster, the head coach of track and field at Troy, of Slater.
“Being here I’ve been able to hold several leadership positions,” Slater adds.
Currently, Slater is the president of both the University Activity Council and the Student Athlete Advisory Committee.
She is also the vice president of the Miss Elite Society on campus and the public relations chair for the National Pan-Hellenic Council.
As a senior graduating in July, though, her time here at Troy is drawing to a close. She is happy to be ending her undergraduate career on a positive note.
“We’ve have some more challenging workouts this year, which is good, because it means we will perform better,” Slater says of her final track season.
“I didn’t have the confidence as a freshman and sophomore,” Slater said.
My coach always told me I could do it and I could be up there with the other girls. I’m trusting in myself, in my workouts, in God, so I’m performing better this year than I have in my previous years.”
After graduation, Slater plans to head immediately to graduate school.
“I’m going for speech pathology. I applied in December and I find out in March where I will go. I applied to UGA, Georgia State and Auburn. Whoever accepts me, I’m going with it.”
She said her dream is to invest in children like so many people that invested in her life.
“I want to work with kids because when I was in elementary school I had a speech pathologist since I couldn’t pronounce certain words,” she said.
And just as she has been encouraged and coached throughout her life by others, Slater wants to return the favor to others. “I would like to work there because you can really see the progress.”

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