Anna-Lee Walcott -- Women's Trackster From West Indies

Anna-Lee Walcott is not a woman of many words but chooses to make her impression, instead, through her accomplishments on the track.

Walcott, a 5-7 sophomore heptathlete and javelin thrower, got involved in track when her brother convinced her that she should try out for the school team and she has has continued to be involved in the sport ever since.

The heptathlon in outdoor track consists of the 100 meter hurdles, the high jump, shot put, 200, long jump and 800 meters. The indoor pentathlon consists of five events: 100 hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump and 800 meters.

Walcott began competing for national teams in her home country of Trinidad at the age of nine and has succeeded at every level. But to hear her talk about that, you would think everybody could have done the same as her.

"Being on a national team in Trinidad is not that difficult because there are not that many people to compete with," Walcott said. "You just have to want to do it and you probably make a national team."

One difficulty that Walcott faced in her development as an athlete was a lack of facilities to aid in her development. The track she trained on in high school had also served as a pasture for cattle and was uneven and difficult to run on.

"People grazed cows and donkeys on the track in my hometown so it was full of divots and holes that made it difficult to run" Walcott said. "My high school never had weights so the only time I had decent facilities was when I was on a national team and went to the national stadium."

Training for the high jump was especially difficult for Walcott because there was no high jump pit to use at her high school. Despite the lack of facilities, she continued to improve as an athlete and make a name for herself. People began to recognize the potential of the Toco native (near Tobago) and as a result, her high school was finally provided a high jump pit when she was a senior.

As she neared the end of her high school years, Walcott began to look around at her options for college and BYU had come knocking on the door. Another Trinidad heptathlete, Marsha Mark, was with BYU at the time and she was persuasive in making Walcott a Cougar.

"Marsha talked to me about coming here and she told me about some of the benefits of coming to BYU," Walcott said. "She also gave me someone to train with when I first came that I knew from Trinidad."

So after looking at her options for a college career, Walcott determined that BYU would be the best option for her in several areas.

"When I was making my decision to come here, athletics was only one of my considerations," Walcott said. "The education I could get was just as important in my decision to come to school here. BYU was the best program for me."

So she packed her bags and headed to the unfamiliar setting of Provo to begin her collegiate career in the fall of 1999. When she got here, she found that she was going to have to make some adjustments to BYU life.

"I am not LDS, so just coming to BYU was an experience in itself," Walcott said. "Life is so much different here than it is in Trinidad."

Her acquaintance with a few members of the track team made the transition easier for her but her college experience was still a big change for her.

"When I was coming here my high school teacher told me that college was easier than high school," Walcott said. "But being in college and participating in athletics requires a lot of work."

One of the biggest differences for Walcott as she began to go out and compete was the talent she saw on the BYU team and also at the meets she entered as a freshman. She was used to winning nearly everything she entered but now found she had some work to do to stay on top.

"You realize there is more competition here than you had back home," Walcott said. "That is good for your improvement because better competition raises your level."

The increased competition did not mean much to her on a conference level, as she won the Mountain West Conference heptathlon title in her first year. She was named Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year at both the indoor and outdoor championships.

Despite her success on the conference level, Walcott did not record a score high enough to qualify for the NCAA Championships that year and her freshman season came to an end after the conference meet.

That failure motivated Walcott to work hard throughout the off-season to be ready to make her mark at nationals as a sophomore, but things would not work out for her yet again.

She came into the 2001 season confident in her chance of earning a spot and making a mark at nationals but suffered a hamstring pull early in the season that forced her to redshirt last year.

Through all that has happened to her, Walcott's work ethic has allowed her to maintain her conditioning and she comes into the 2002 track season ready to show her improvement on the track. She has plenty of company on the team when it comes to working hard though.

"I think the thing that would set me apart most places is how hard I work," Walcott said. "But here there are a number of girls who work just as hard, some probably even harder, as me to get ready."

A statement like that means a lot coming from Walcott, who spends between four and five hours a day training in addition to the time she spends studying and in class.

During this past off-season, in fact, Walcott had such a regimented schedule that she had very little time for herself. Her day began at three o'clock every morning when she arose to get ready and go to work as a custodian at BYU.

After working for around four hours a day, Walcott went to class from eight to 12 and then headed straight to the track for practice. Once practice was done, Walcott had to hit the books until she went to bed around eight every night. She followed that schedule throughout the fall semester.

"When you start thinking about school and everything that you have to do as an athlete, you realize that living this life gives you a lot of discipline," Walcott said. "Keeping up with work, school and track is difficult."

Keeping up with school becomes even more difficult for Walcott when she has to spend three or four days away from school at various meets.

"The most difficult part of the schedule during the season is when you have to miss class," Walcott said. "You have to find a friend in the class early in the semester so they can take notes for you. The school also helps by providing tutors so we can keep up with the material in the classes."

Walcott claims success in Trinidad was all about natural ability, and her improvement since coming to college has been, in part, a result of the coaching of BYU head coach Craig Poole.

"Coach Poole is a lot different than my coach in high school," Walcott said. "He has so much experience working with athletes that he can give you specific advice about what you are doing wrong and what you need to do to improve."

In addition to the technical advice Coach Poole is able to provide Walcott, he has also become a father figure for her.

"He sits and talks to you about things and you know he cares about you," Walcott said. "He makes you feel like you are better than you really are and that helps you reach a bit deeper inside to compete."

With the natural ability she brought in and the training she has received, Walcott has set her sights on one goal for herself in track.

"My thing is just going to the Olympics in 2004 to represent Trinidad," Walcott said. "I am expecting to go to the Olympics and then after that I will probably just go home, lead a normal life and start a family."

But on her way to Athens, Greece, Walcott hopes to bring home another crown and make a stop in Baton Rouge, La. to represent BYU in the NCAA Outdoor Championships.