Olympic star visits track team

By Allison Krecek

Three-time gold medalist Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee spoke with the track and field team about balance, love and forgieveness.

Joyner-Kersee helped students learn how to balance school and athletics or other extra curricular activities. Joyner-Kersee visited because she reconnected with her friend and previous trainee, Connie Teaberry, who is the director of cross country and track and field. After exchanging phone numbers, Joyner-Kersee said she wanted to speak with some of the students and athletes enrolled at NIU.

“I came to NIU today to meet with coach [Teaberry], and we had been talking about some different things I was doing now in East St. Louis and I wanted to come and share our Love and Forgiveness project with the track team,” Joyner-Kersee said.

The Love and Forgiveness project tries to teach students to love, respect and forgive one another. While Joyner-Kersee has mainly worked with high school students, she recently started talking with college students.

“I’ve been doing the Love and Forgiveness project for a very long time, but I usually do it at the high school level, but I found out recently that young ladies become freshmen in college with the same types of issues or concerns at that level and then having a relationship with [Teaberry] made a difference in me coming here,” Joyner-Kersee said.

Teaberry was mentored by Joyner-Kersee and made it on the 1996 Olympic team before becoming the director of cross country and track and field at NIU. After reconnecting, Teaberry was excited for her previous mentor to come talk with the students.

“[Joyner-Kersee] figured out that we were at an institution, Northern Illinois, and wanted to speak to the community and the athletes,” Teaberry said. “So it was a huge honor for us, we’re just in awe.”

While Joyner-Kersee is speaking with a larger crowd 9 a.m. today in the Convocation Center to answer questions. She started Wednesday off with a more personal setting and spoke with the track team. Rebecca Cronin, senior business administration major and track team member, was eager to meet the Olympian.

“I think that it is a great opportunity for her to come here and speak to us not only about track but about what we grow through in life and being a female athlete,” Cronin said.

Teaberry felt the visit was beneficial for the girls because Love and Forgiveness sends out a positive and enlightening message.

“I think it teaches a lot more than just athletics, it also teaches about life and how to listen to people to get the outcomes you want whether it’s athletics, whether it’s life, or whether its degree,” Teaberry said.