Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Freshman track and field star Aaliyah Foster follows in footsteps of Longhorn legends

Skyler Sharp
Freshman Aaliyah Foster lands in the sand pit while competing in long jump at the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays. Foster placed first with her jump of 6.75 meters.

Before winning the long-jump event at the 96th Annual Texas Relays, freshman Aaliyah Foster got the audience clapping in unison, creating an energetic atmosphere. 

Foster emphasized the importance of getting the crowd engaged and having fun during meets in order to stay calm and produce strong results. 

“It’s easier on you, it’s easier on your mental health and I think a lot of athletes perform better when (they’re) having fun while doing what they do,” Foster said. “If you’re flustered, it’s hard to recover from that.”

For Foster, the journey of achieving a bronze medal at her first conference championships and advancing to finals at the national championships was no easy feat, given her lack of experience in competing in indoor track and field. 

“Having to adapt to the indoor situation was kind of shaky at first, but eventually (I) got used to it,” Foster said. 

Despite early season inconsistencies, Foster said she is proud of herself and has learned that in order to grow and achieve success she must have trust in the process. 

“The lesson learned throughout (the indoor season) is to be patient with yourself,” Foster said. “Everything will fall into place.”

Foster has enormous shoes to fill, following in the footsteps of Longhorn long-jump legends. Among them are alumna and current world champion Tara Davis-Woodhall as well as reigning national champion, junior Ackelia Smith. Texas’ history of producing long jump stars is the reason why Foster committed to the program. 

“It feels good to be in the environment of you know, greats,” Foster said. 

Some athletes, especially freshmen, could be frightened to live up to expectations set by predecessors. But Foster transforms that pressure into motivation. 

“I don’t really feel pressure,” Foster said.  “I just listen to my coach, do what I do best and go out there and perform as I have, because if they can do it I can do it.”

Despite track and field being mostly an individual sport, Foster has embraced the community and environment of the Texas program. Her trust in her coaches and teammates for support and guidance has helped her navigate the transition into college athletics and living in a new country. 

“I think with the support of the people around you, your coach, your teammates, having somebody to lean on, get used to the environment and, you know, ask questions, … it gets easier after a while,” Foster said.

Smith and Foster share a unique bond of competing in the same event. The connection has made the national champion not just a teammate of Foster’s, but a mentor.

“Ackelia has definitely been somebody who is there for me, who I look up to,” Foster said. “And especially being from the same country, she understands how I feel as a freshman and how to address certain things.” 

While Foster excelled at her debut at the Texas Relays, she has no specific goals for the rest of the season besides improving each meet. 

“I will say for outdoor season I just want to be healthy,” she said. “I just want to continuously jump further than what I’ve jumped before.”

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