Senior De'Nisha Smith was named the Virginia Lottery Student-Athlete of the Week for her efforts in securing another Atlantic 10 Track & Field Championship title this past weekend. Smith won two individual championships during the meet, contributing 20 points to VCU's total score.
On Saturday, Smith won the long jump on her sixth and final attempt after not competing in the event for an entire year. Her 5.77m mark was also a personal best. "Long jump for me was just more of having fun," Smith said.
"I used to long jump a while ago but I tore my ACL. The one I tore was my jump knee. That kind of set me back, so when I first came back I wasn't too concerned with jumping." Smith went 21 months without long jumping in competition following the 2015 injury.
"This weekend was kind of for fun. I already had the championship mindset, like you can do this, you've done this before. I feel like I was more relaxed because I hadn't done it recently," Smith said.
Smith's long jump win accounted for 10 of VCU's 23 points scored on the first day of the meet. On Sunday, the team would go on to score 99.5. "Day two is really where we get pumped up because we know that this is where it matters most," Smith said.
The Richmond, Va. native took advantage of her opportunity to compete in Sunday's 60-meter hurdle finals and posted a time of 8.65, earning first place and 10 more points. It was Smith's second consecutive year winning the event. "I had the mindset that I was going to win, like this was an all or nothing kind of thing," said Smith.
"We have a great, great coaching staff. I credit it to them most just because you truly have to trust the process, and that only comes with trust in your coaches."
During Smith's time at VCU the team has won three indoor titles and one outdoor. "I was here on the first team to win the Atlantic 10 in track & field at VCU, but I want to be on the first team to win indoor and outdoor."
Favorite VCU track & field memory: Last year when I won the hurdles. That year I really worked hard to get back because a lot of people don't come back from ACL injuries. I felt like a lot of people in my conference probably counted me out.
Best dancer on the team: Camora Sanders
Dream vacation: Anywhere out of the U.S., maybe the Bahamas, Jamaica, or Cancun.
Favorite movie: Matilda