A motivating environment is crucial to the success of individual athletes and the team as a whole. A team with a strong bond and a mutual desire for shared achievement is powerful. They can accomplish greatness. A team without these characteristics may falter.
Fortunately for Seattle Pacific University’s newest women’s track team member, senior Vanessa Aniteye, she was welcomed onto a team of fellow athletes who all possess an intense drive to succeed.
“One of my favorite things about the SPU team is that we uplift each other. I really like that about my teammates. I can’t wait to see how everyone will do this outdoor season,” Aniteye said.
Aniteye is a sprinter who has recently transferred to SPU from the University of Alaska Anchorage to take advantage of her last year of eligibility. Throughout her career as a Seawolf from 2017 to 2019, she has been crowned with five Great Northwest Athletic Conference Championships in the women’s 400-meter dash. She has three outdoor championships and two indoor championships.
Aniteye also has two relay race titles. One is in the outdoor 4×100 and the other is in the indoor 4×400. During her last year of competing in outdoor meets at Alaska Anchorage in 2019, Aniteye decided it was time for a change.
“I have always seen how dominant the SPU female sprinters were and sprints are something that I really wanted to put an emphasis on in my new training. SPU seemed like a great fit,” Aniteye said. “My decision to transfer was mainly based on athletics, to be honest. We also made sure to find the right academic program for me and were successful in finding one.”
The 2022 spring outdoor track season is the first athletic season that Aniteye has represented SPU, and it is also the first time she has competed in the GNAC since 2019. It was difficult for her to leave behind her old teammates at Alaska Anchorage, but she is excited to compete against them in future meets.
“There were definitely a lot of tears because this team was everything I knew for three years. I keep in touch with my old teammates, and I am actually very excited to be able to push each other on the track now,” Aniteye said. “Given that I am in the same conference, I know how talented some of my old teammates are, and that inspires me to work even harder now. On the track, we are competitors but outside of the track nothing has changed.”
Although Aniteye has continued to stay active and train during her time away from the track, she has not been able to routinely practice as much as she had when she was a full-time student-athlete.
“Competing for the first time at SPU was a big step back into competitive running for me. After having my son in 2020, I did not get back to training on a consistent schedule until this fall when I joined the team,” Aniteye said. “Being a part of a team helped me to get back into the routine of a consistent practice schedule. Since I redshirted in the indoor season, I was very excited for my very first collegiate track meet in two years.”
In her debut as a Falcon, Aniteye competed at the Pacific Lutheran University Open in Tacoma, Washington. Aniteye ended the event with three wins and began her SPU career off with a bang.
She helped the relay teams achieve victories in both the 4×400 and the 4×100. The other event that Aniteye won was the 800-meter run where she clocked a finishing time of 2:12.31.
Aniteye has proven herself to be a solid competitor after her first SPU track meet, but she is much more than just an athlete. As an athlete, she is expected to maintain a tight workout schedule on the track and she must follow it. Outside of track meets and practice, Aniteye takes care of her son and enjoys having the ability to choose what she wants to do with her time.
“Honestly, when I am not running I like to just relax and watch TV. I also really enjoy cooking,” Aniteye said. “Cooking is just somewhat relaxing and calming to me when I don’t have to do it every day. I like to try out new meals and I don’t really follow recipes, so I kind of do my own thing and it usually works out well for me.”
After competing in her first meet with SPU, Aniteye has officially begun her journey as a Falcon athlete and will continue to push herself to perform at her body’s greatest capacity.
She also plans to use her knowledge and resilience gained as a track athlete to coach others in the future. This is not her career goal, but she does anticipate coaching to be a part of her journey. Before becoming a coach, Aniteye wants to gain some experience in the medical field, specifically in orthopedics.
However, graduation is not here yet and she still has an outdoor track season to complete. This is only the beginning of her comeback story. She plans to take full advantage of the chance SPU has given her and will not waste a single second.
“I just did not feel like I was done yet. but rather just getting started. It just did not sit well with me to let my last year of eligibility run out,” Aniteye said. “I also want to make my son proud. I want him to see how hard I work to reach my goals and inspire him to do the same when he grows up.”