For the first time since opening in 1978, Regent University is officially home to intercollegiate competing athletes. Coach Ayanna Reece led a team of more than 40 track and field athletes to the Christopher Newport Captains Invitational Saturday, January 21 in Newport News, Virginia.
“It was awesome,” said Reece. “The anticipation, excitement, time and dedication that we as a team, the coaches, the staff, the athletes had built up released. It was so exciting. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.”
The majority of the team members had never competed in track and field, and although they were nervous, Reece describes the atmosphere surrounding them as peaceful, calm and supportive. It’s the culmination of a vision to launch a sports program at Regent University. Dr. Joseph Umidi, Regent’s executive vice president for student life, arrived from Washington D.C. to see and support the team compete.
“It’s like seeing a bunch of strangers become family,” said Umidi. “This team has bonded like no team I’ve seen before. They are supportive, and they are encouraging each other, and I think they’ve become an entity in and of themselves that is well beyond my expectations.”
Competing in an actual meet is a race the team has been running since it assembled in fall 2016. Students awoke daily at the crack of dawn to train. Roger Cheeks, athletic director, says today’s greatest accomplishment was finishing the race.
“What we wanted to do with these athletes at Regent was get them used to the environment of track and field,” said Cheeks. “In many cases, these athletes have never competed on a collegiate level. We wanted to get them an opportunity to see what the environment is like, you hear the guns go off, get in competition, and I think we’re accomplishing that task.”
Regent athletes competed in shot put, 600 meter, 400 meter, 200 meter, and mile races. The entire team, dressed in blue track suits, shouted in support of their fellow runners, encouraging them as they ran around an indoor track.
Officially, Regent University College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) sophomore Quaneisha Roberts was the university’s first competing athlete.
“I am honored to be the first athlete to ever compete for Regent, and I just see a great future for this team,” said Roberts. “When I was about to throw, everyone was cheering me on. It was an amazing feeling. We’re all a team. We’re all family, so it’s amazing. My coach is great. She always pushes us to our limits.”
Now that the nervousness of a first-ever meet is behind them, the team is excited to invite vans full of fans from Regent to join the excitement of competition. An event to bring as many fans as possible to the team’s second meet on February 4, also at Christopher Newport, will be announced soon.