By Jada Lewis
Former Georgia State track and field athlete Alexus Shaw was packing her bags in March for a week-long trip in Tampa, Florida preparing for the final outdoor season of her career. A few moments after placing her spikes and suitcase next to her bedroom door, she received a text from her coach that the NCAA canceled all spring sports due to the spread of coronavirus.
“I immediately became emotional,” Shaw said. “I thought about all the hard work and hours we put in as a team and then being told we can’t start our outdoor season together —that was heartbreaking.”
Two weeks later, the committee released an additional statement announcing an extra year of eligibility will be granted to student-athletes who participate in spring sports. Although this decision allows college players the opportunity to make up for their 2020 seasons, it may result in a hard decision for others.
Not all student-athletes are on full scholarships which could lead to more expenses. For some, this means money for school books, financial aid and meal plans will not be provided by the institution. Some amateurs also have no desire to play at the professional level, which may mean it is time for them to find a job.
Shaw has shifted her focus towards the future.
“My plans are to finish school strong and find a job,” said Shaw. “This time around I can save money and prepare for the career I want early on.”
One thing she didn’t miss out on is graduation. Shaw graduated in December 2019.
The day before her first collegiate track meet, Shaw tore her left hamstring, which caused her to miss the 2017 outdoor season. After choosing to medically red-shirt, she became eligible to compete the year following graduation.
“I wasn’t going to let my injury stop anything,” said Shaw. “I used that experience as a way to further my education.”
Shaw is continuing her path in exercise science as a master’s degree student. She has dreamed of being a physical therapist since her junior year of high school.
“I’ve always found it interesting to learn about the human body and how the smallest bones affect different motions we use with our bodies,” she says.
A career in health care wasn’t the only goal on Shaw’s mind though.
Ever since signing her athletic scholarship in April 2016, she wanted to become one of the top track and field athletes in GSU history, and after a stellar 2019 season, she was headed in the right direction.
At GSU, Shaw broke the school record in the indoor long jump, attained the fourth-best outdoor long jump mark and was one of two GSU track and field athletes to qualify for the 2019 NCAA East preliminaries. The graduated senior felt she was scratching the surface of all she could do.
“I had a lot more left to accomplish,” said Shaw. “I became one of the highest individual scorers in the Sun Belt Conference, but I wanted to leave as the best. I was determined to win more medals and retrieve the MVP award.”
Even though she will no longer compete in a GSU uniform, Shaw aced her last collegiate track meet. She placed in the top four in the long jump, third in the 60-meter hurdles and second in the triple jump which earned her the fourth silver medal of her career.
Head Coach Kyle Stevenson speaks highly of Shaw’s leadership and positive influence.
“Alexus is one of the hardest-working athletes I’ve ever coached,” said Stephenson. “She was a role model to her teammates on and off the track, and I hate that she was not able to finish.”
Through it all, Shaw has learned to treat each opportunity as if tomorrow is not promised.
“This unexpected time was eye-opening for me,” Shaw said. “I see why you have to take advantage of every practice, game and competition because you never know when it’s going to be your last.”
(Editor’s note – Alexus Shaw is a 2016 graduate of Pierce County High School.)