Georgette Nixon's life has been a study in perseverance. Though she was a born athlete — "I loved to be outdoors and running around as a kid," she said — throughout her track and field career, she had to battle the assumption that she was the underdog. "I started track and field my junior year in high school, which is considered a late start for most who want to continue in college," Georgette said. Though she didn't initially get recruited to be on a college team, she took the initiative to reach out to the head coach at Southern Connecticut State University and was offered a walk-on spot on the team.
From there, Georgette knew the possibilities for her talent to shine were endless, if she stayed determined and focused. "I made a promise to myself that I would not leave SCSU the same way I came," she said. "I wanted to make a name for myself."
Georgette felt she had even more to prove as the first person in her family to attend college. "For many first-generation college students, family members who are familiar with the college admissions process are scarce or nonexistent," she said. "I had to be proactive about seeking advice and mentorship." Georgette had to be her own biggest (and loudest) advocate when it came down to the wire — and her perseverance was what propelled her career to the next level.
When she made it onto the SCSU track and field team, no one thought she would score, let alone qualify for the major championships. But she made it a point to be the first one on the track in the morning and the last to leave, a level of determination her coaches noticed. By the end of her freshman year, she had secured a spot on the 4x400m relay team that competed at the New England Championship, the defining moment that launched her successful five years on the team. "I helped rewrite history at SCSU by bringing the first National title to a relay team ever at SCSU," Georgette said. "My years on the team made me realize that nothing is given — it's earned. It was the hardest I have ever worked but it was worth it."
After graduation, that same personal ethos has continued to be the guiding force in Georgette's life, and she's taken the lessons she learned while on the track into her new day-to-day. "I learned to appreciate the journey and not just stress about the destination — taking it easy won’t take you anywhere,” she said. "In track and field, all you need is you, yourself, and your mind. You experiment with different ways to test your body’s energy systems, strength limits, and ultimately, your mental fortitude."
Georgette said she had to do some soul searching after graduating and leaving her professional athletic career behind. "Especially after becoming a National Champion during my track years, when I graduated, I had to ask myself, 'Now what? What’s next?'" she said. "It’s no secret that athletes love competition. I had to figure out how to channel that same thought process into my career."
Now, Georgette has found two different directions for the next phase of her career: as a strength trainer and an assistant track and field coach at her alma mater. "It's an incredible opportunity to be an assistant coach at SCSU, since it was a program that poured so much into me as an athlete and as an individual," she said. "I enjoy being a mentor to young women — watching them grow and unveil their true potential is an amazing experience. I always want them to leave the track and field program better individuals than when they came in; more poised, confident, and respectful."
Georgette continues to redefine what it means to be an athlete post-college by incorporating everything she learned while on the team to her adult life. "Student athletes must balance their academics with their athletic commitments, not to mention a hectic travel schedule," she said. "Through this, we learn self-discipline as well as excellent time management, all skills which I will continue to use in my adult career."
Now in the midst of a global pandemic with school openings postponed and training sessions unable to happen in person, Georgette has had to adapt to this new normal. "My fitness routine definitely had a significant adjustment," she said. "Before the pandemic, I had access to a gym and track at any time. I've really had to find a new level of commitment to my fitness goals since having to workout at home. I had lifting partners before COVID-19, so I've had to find more internal motivation to ensure that I don't lose my progress. I've turned more to HIIT workouts and running on the roads, and I've started writing down a daily routine that's realistic and helps me stick to my fitness goals.”
Georgette has also had to get creative when it comes to keeping up her ties to her fitness community, whether it's her group of workout buddies or her students. "Virtual sessions have helped me greatly during this time," she said. "I have a great group of other like-minded women who enjoy working out together. We encourage each other weekly and see one another as accountability partners. Having a daily positive routine during this time helps you feel that you wake up with a purpose everyday. It has helped me stay structured with my workouts, fitness goals, and self-care regimen."
Though she's no longer competing for national titles, Georgette said she's always on the grind, pushing herself reach the next level of whatever she's working towards. As she succinctly puts it: "Same mindset, different goals."