Earlier this month, Isaac Bediako ’20 and I had the opportunity to attend a press conference for the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, an elite professional track meet that takes place in Boston every winter. Among the list of high-caliber names that were present, we got the chance to chat with Trayvon Bromell, an American athlete specializing in the sprinting events. Bromell, who is only 24 years old, has already piled up an incredible list of awards in his short track career. He was the first high schooler ever to break the 10-second barrier in the 100 meters, with a time of 9.97 seconds, which remains to this day the current junior world record. In 2016 Bromell had a standout season, winning the World Indoor Championships in the 60-meter dash as well as representing the U.S at the Summer Olympics in Rio. Bromell boasts uniquely impressive accomplishments, but he has also faced a series of tough injuries that threatened to end his career. After 4 record-breaking high-school years, Bromell suffered a devastating Achilles tear, a setback that put a massive halt on his upward trajectory. Bromell worked tirelessly in his rehab and is even now close to reaching his previous level of dominance, but through his years away from the sport he learned a necessary lesson; he had to be more than just an athlete.
He talked to us about the importance of education in the world of professional sports, and how problematic it is that many of the world’s best athletes are allocating little focus to it.
“You see a lot of these pros leave school early and they never go back”, said Bromell. He explained how the harsh reality is most athletes retire before they turn 35, and 99% of them won’t make enough money through sports to support them in the years following. Getting a higher education should clearly be much more of a priority for pro-athletes.
Nowadays, college degrees and diplomas are on the forefront of Bromell’s mind. However, his love for education was not always so strong. “I got to college and I didn’t care about school at all; I was purely there to run”, he explained. The change occurred after his injuries, as he was forced to reconsider his path in life as a whole.
“You truly never know what will happen,” Bromell said, pointing to his heel. “This showed me that”. No matter how careful athletes are in their injury prevention, they are never immune to misfortune.
“I realized that track and field─sports in general─are only going to last so long.”
Bromell came to a simple but monumental realization: “Education is going to be big”. He remained dedicated to his training but decided to approach his studies through a whole different lens. Instead of just trying to maintain the necessary GPA to stay on the team, he saw his classes as an opportunity for his future. Looking back on his college years, it’s clear his dedication paid off. Bromell graduated from Baylor University with degrees in health and business and told us he even plans to pursue a third post-graduate degree in law. The sad reality is that many athletes lack the motivation to return to school with Bromell’s determination; he wholeheartedly understands this and is grateful he made the right decision.
“If I didn’t get back into school I would have just been another famous track athlete who fell off the face of the earth”, he said. Through talking to him and hearing his story, it was no secret to me that Bromell is incredibly proud of his academic accolades.
“They look at me and say ‘you’re an athlete’, and I’m like, ‘look, I also got two degrees!”. He even holds his scholarly achievements on par with his athletic ones, if not above them.
“I would give up any gold medal that I’ve earned to have a higher education; in the end, you reap the benefits of that more than a medal”. It is important to mention through talking about all of this, that Bromell is still one of the top sprinters in the world today. He remains focused on track and likely has a shining career ahead of him. Yet through his acquisition of higher education, Bromell has a terrific array of options after he decides to hang up the spikes.