When Brusly high graduate Ta’La Spates chose to attend the University of Louisiana at Lafayette on a track scholarship, she mentioned making her own way on the track and in the classroom and she is doing just that.
On top of handling the university’s rigorous nursing curriculum, Spates was part of the 4x100-meter relay team that made school history earlier this summer to close out her sophomore year.
Spates, along with Kennedy London, Serenity Rogers and Kiana Foster clocked a school-record time of 44.39 seconds at the NCAA East Preliminary meet in Jacksonville in late May.
The time was good for 12th overall, which allowed the relay team to advance to the NCAA Championships a few weeks later in Eugene, Oregon.
The team posted a 44.79 in Oregon, which was good for 20th.
“Covid happened my freshman year, so I had an indoor season, but I didn’t have outdoor,” Spates said. “I was real excited to get back on the track this outdoor season. What we did this year was amazing. It started with the Texas Relays where we won our section in the 4x100 to qualify for regionals in Jacksonville. I also posted my lifetime pr (personal record) in the 400. I was really pleased. It was exciting.”
Spates and the 4x100 relay team claimed the Texas Relays in March with a time of 44.81. The 44.39 ran in Jacksonville eclipsed the previous record 44.80 set by Leafay Henry, Cecily Gully, Twilet Malcolm and Keisha Ray Owens in 1993.
Spates said competing in Oregon was vastly different from being a prep athlete who watched the competition on television.
“Seeing the meet on tv as high schoolers and actually getting to compete was crazy,” Spates recalled. “We put in the hard work to earn a spot in the meet. The atmosphere was different. It felt surreal. It was such a blessing to be there.
I got to experience the true definition of hard work breeds success,” she continued. “I struggled with that in high school, and I think that prevented me from accomplishing a few more things. This year, I needed this to get past that mental block.”
The biggest transition from high school to college has been the level of independence, according to the 19-year-old.
“I’m doing everything on my own,” she said. “Every step is my own. It’s a part of adulting. I have a really great support system. They support me every step of the way.”