Roosevelt alumni Norris Frederick is the most decorated athlete in Washington State history and three time US bronze medalist in the long jump. Norris paid a visit to Roosevelt High School last Thursday evening. Over the course of the two hour event, he talked about his life, his training, and his family before moving on to take questions from audience members themselves.
Norris Frederick attended Roosevelt as part of the class of 2002. In his sophomore year, he was persuaded to take up track and field by his basketball coach. Though he hadn’t expected to, Norris ended up being incredibly successful at track. He won five state titles and a gold medal at the junior Olympics in the high jump. He also set two national records in the high jump and long jump, all while at Roosevelt. His success in track led to a track and field scholarship from the University of Washington where he continued on to further greatness.
Frederick spent a majority of the evening speaking not about his athletics, but about his personal struggles. He was raised by only in his mother in a poor household. His father struggled with alcohol problems and was only briefly present in Frederick’s life. Fredrick says that is one of the major things that influenced his current morals. “Whenever alcohol was introduced in our household it just seemed like terrible things happened. I never really understood how to channel the anger and rage and frustration; I just always understood that if I can see light at the end of the tunnel, everything will be okay. I’m 29 years old now and I’ve never drank, never smoked, never been incarcerated, I’ve never been in trouble with the law. It’s not the luck of the draw, it’s simply because that’s not the life I want to live.” During school, Frederick had frequent discipline problems. One of his former teachers, Chad Barnes, was present in the audience for Frederick’s speech. “I gave this man the blues,” laughed Fredrick, “probably from the start of my freshman year to the end of my sophomore year…but he saw me for who I was.”
Frederick’s career with the UW track and field team nearly ended when his father was murdered. This great personal loss almost caused him to quit the team. It was only after being convinced by the head athletic coach at UW that he decided to stay. “The head coach said something to me that I’ll never forget. He says ‘Norris, I don’t care if it takes you six years to graduate from this university, I will pay for it out of my own pocket, but you will not be a product of your environment. You will not fail and you will not be a loser.’” On his first day back on the team, Norris had the number one jump in the world recorded by anybody in 2005.
After college, Frederick competed for team USA and became a 3 time bronze medalist at the USATF Indoor Championships. His current goal is the 2016 Olympics, something he has been training for relentlessly. He continues to practice daily with several different coaches. He ended the night by taking questions from the audience. Many in the crowd had come from schools miles away to hear him speak his words of inspiration. Just before leaving he said: “If there’s one thing that you guys can walk away with after today, it’s that there is going to be bad things that are going to happen to you no matter what; under any circumstance, things can always go south. What you do when that happens is what makes you that great person or that great athlete.”
Featured Photo: Norris spoke at Roosevelt last Thursday, the 19th. Photo by Aidan Walter