Winslow Township senior Shakira Dancy is following in her parents’ footsteps.
Both participated in track and field in college. Dancy’s father, Steven, ran sprints at Drexel. Her mother, Zakiyyah, threw the discus and was a shot putter at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
In the fall, Dancy will attend the University of Florida for track and field.
Dancy’s parents “were fierce competitors,” said Winslow Township coach Shawnnika Brown, who went to Edgewood High School with them. “She gets that from both of them.”
Dancy said she’s looking to set personal records this outdoor season by decreasing her times by half a second. Last season she finished first in the 200 meters at the Meet of Champions in 24.14 seconds.
While Dancy is following the path her parents once traveled, she wants to go even farther than competing at the collegiate level and eventually participate in the Olympics.
“That would be great,” Dancy said. “That’s my ultimate goal.”
Brown wouldn’t be surprised if Dancy reached the Olympics. One of her former coaches is also confident she can accomplish that goal.
Vaughn Williams coached Dancy at the E-1 Track Club when she briefly moved to Georgia before high school.
Dancy said her time with Williams in Georgia helped her learn beyond the fundamentals of track and field.
Williams’ club helped runners build strength and improve on weaknesses in their form through an array of drills, including A strides and C strides. The strides are workouts that help runners gain strength and coordination in order to improve their times, Williams said.
Williams never had a problem training Dancy. The problem was slowing her down.
“She’s wired that way,” Williams said.
“She’s very, very, hard on herself,” he added. “She wants to be the best. The best in the 200 or the best in the 100.”
Dancy even keeps her diet in check. She decided to become a vegetarian three years ago after she did research and watched documentaries such as Cowspiracy and 101 Reasons to Go Vegan.
Dancy said altering her eating habits has helped her feel fresher on the track.
“I feel lighter,” Dancy said. “I feel more upbeat and active, not as droopy and sluggish.”
Before practices or meets, Dancy and the seniors will lead the team in stretches to get loose, senior Flora Ahiarakwe said.
But Dancy’s style, Brown said, has always been to lead by example with her performance and work ethic. And Dancy’s ready to do just that and attack the outdoor season.
“Shakira doesn’t like losing, she likes winning,” Williams said. “She’s a studier. She’ll study how to get better. She’ll do what she needs to do to become a better athlete. That’s just in her genes.”