Once Bahamas native Marissa White found out Temple University track and field coach Elvis Forde was from Barbados, she knew she wanted to come to Temple.
Forde, trying to widen the team’s international reach, recruited freshman sprinter White last summer. She is one of three freshman runners from the West Indies who committed to Temple.
“I was largely influenced by the positive attitude I experienced in first speaking to coach Forde,” White added. “The way he went about the recruiting process was what set him apart from the other coaches I had spoken to.”
Some of the best runners in the world hail from islands in the West Indies. As a freshman, White’s proved to be one of the best. This season, she’s finished in the top 10 in eight of her nine events at the first four meets.
White’s main event is the 400-meter dash, and she has contributed to the Owls’ 4-x-400 relay team and the 300. After running the 400 in 58.65 seconds in the season opener, White has cut her time in each of her other two 400 races.
“She’s making sure to do all of the small things that can help her get better,” Forde said. “I can’t ask for a better person. When she’s done, she continues to ask questions about how she can be better and what she needs to keep doing.”
As one of Temple’s two freshmen competing at the Lehigh Season Opener last month White won the 400. At the Great Dane Classic in Albany, New York on Jan. 12, she finished third with a time of 57.72 seconds. She bested that time on Saturday at the Penn 8-Team Select with a fifth-place finish in 57.29 seconds.
At Lehigh, White ran the final leg of the 4-x-400 relay to help Temple earn a comeback victory. She also helped the 4-x-400 relay team finish third at the Seahawk Shootout in Staten Island, New York on Dec. 7, 2018 and 10th at the Great Dane Classic.
White grabbed her second individual win of the year on Dec. 7 by running the 300 in 39.75 seconds.
“It’s good to see what my results are, and I’m hoping to keep progressing in a good direction,” White said.
Indoor track can be difficult for freshmen because of its “aggressive” nature as runners push for a position on a track that is a shorter distance than typical outdoor tracks, Forde said. But White is still exceeding expectations despite never running indoors before.
“It can be very discouraging for an athlete, especially when they get pushed around,” Forde said. “Her being new to it and we try to teach her how to be able to push a little bit to kind of get position.”
White will continue to race in the 400, Forde said, but will also compete in the 200 to improve her speed over time.
“She’s very focused so she has some goals and expectations that she has for herself, which makes it easier for me because now my job is to help put her in that position to be extremely successful,” Forde added. “But she is, I would say, ahead of the curve at this time.”