By Anais Hernandez September 6, 2022
Cal Poly Pomona’s own track and field star, Ayana Fields, has been nominated as a “Woman of the Year” nominee by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The four-time NCAA Division II outdoor track and field champion prides herself on being a winner in both the classroom and the track.
For the average bronco, running is not the sport of choice. Athletes are often stereotyped as not being academically driven, but that’s not the story of all athletes. For Fields, her determination and confidence to be the best is her top priority, which has earned her many awards.
The NCAA Woman of the Year honors female collegiate athletes who excel in science, athletics, leadership and community service. Out of 156 women nationwide, Fields made it past the nomination stage of the conference, where the average female student and athlete GPA pool was 3.8.
Of these 156 nominees, ten from each of the NCAA’s three divisions are selected as national honorees. Following this process, three finalists from each division form a pool of nine student-athletes to be considered for honors. The winner will be announced at the NCAA Convention in San Antonio, Texas in January.
With her determination, dedication and winning mentality, she has set record after record for the women’s track and field team. “If I trust my fitness, I can push myself to the limit and win a championship,” Fields said.
She led her team to its first track and field championship since 1998 and made the season a historic one. In May, she won first place in the 100m, 200m, and 400m at the CCAA track and field championships, making it her strongest performance of the season. She also surpassed her personal bests of 23.54 in the 200-meter and 53.44 in the 400-meter race for the NCAA Division II outdoor track and field championships.
The talented and athletic gene runs in her blood as the Los Angeles native grew up in a family of athletes who encouraged her to become the best in the sport.
She began her track and field journey at the young age of six, taking a short break from the sport and resuming it in eighth grade, where she began training with a professional personal trainer.
Fields continued to pursue the sport at Hamilton High School, where her natural talent on the track caught the attention of college athletic recruiters. Fields’ twin brother, Ryan Fields, is a hurdler for the men’s track and field team at CPP. When they were both in high school, assistant bronco track and field coach Darrell Smith Jr. recruited them for a college athlete’s scholarship.
“I came to visit school, and that was pretty much the only major scholarship that was offered,” Fields said. “So I was like, you know what, I like the overall feel of the campus. It wasn’t anything too big and it seemed very quiet, very nice and I accepted straight away.”
After she chose CPP, Fields was determined to excel and put in the extra hours studying for her mental health and training for her physical health.
“It’s about staying focused and prioritizing and balancing both. Make sure you plan your time. Turn in your assignments on time and study for an exam, communicate with the teachers if you will be absent for a track meeting, and just plan your schedule around your practice… overall, just give 100% to everyone. said Fields.
Fields recently completed her Bachelors in Kinesiology and is pursuing a Masters in Exercise Science from CPP. As her academic career progressed, the pandemic eliminated two years of athletic competition and left Fields with a sophomore year at the track.
“I’m prouder of the sport simply because it’s my passion. But of course you still have to do the academic side of that,” Fields said. “I like the sport more because I love running, I love it so much and I put a lot of effort and attention into it.”
Her hard work paid off when she was awarded the prestigious CoSIDA Academic All-American honor, making her the sixth track and field athlete in CPP history since 2012 to receive this honor.
Fields shares that she has bigger ambitions and goals for her sports career and dreams of becoming an Olympic runner. She advises aspiring collegiate athletes to always persevere and pursue what they want.
“Always give it your all, no matter the event and no matter the race. No matter what you do in life, it doesn’t have to be on the track, it can just be in life, but give it your all,” she said, “when you hit a wall, you figure out how to break it down, do it further. Just don’t let obstacles throw you back. Don’t let anything or anyone stop you from doing what you want to do.”
For more information on Ayana Fields and her career history, visit the CPP Athletics website.
Feature image courtesy of Ayana Fields.