Attallah Goodman’s career is plagued by one moment of great disappointment.
Originally from Trenton, New Jersey, the freshman hurdler began running track & field in her junior year at Notre Dame High School and immediately found she had a special talent.
Once she discovered her niche in the 400-meter hurdles, Goodman continued to climb the ladder in the sport, eventually qualifying for the New Balance Nationals Outdoor meet – one of the biggest meets in the country – during her junior year.
On that day, Goodman was meters away from winning her section of the 400 hurdles. With her adrenaline all but drained, she stopped running too early – right before the finish line.
“I was actually seeded first in the hurdles, and then I stopped,” Goodman said. “At the moment, it was terrible. It was a downer, but it happened and then I just had to learn from it.”
After putting her high school days behind her, Goodman arrived on Temple’s campus eager to start her collegiate track & field career. She began practicing with her new teammates and dreaming of her first meet where she could proudly don a Temple uniform.
Unfortunately for Goodman, her body did not adjust to the increased training as well as she had expected.
“I’m a tough person, and in high school I was never injured,” Goodman said. “As time went on and practices got harder, my legs were just killing me, but I never said anything to [coach Elvis Forde]. It came to the point where I couldn’t hop anymore and then I found out about my stress fracture in my right tibia.”
As if one injury wasn’t bad enough, Goodman’s left leg was in the process of forming its own stress fracture.
Despite her eagerness to compete, Goodman was forced to watch from afar as her first collegiate track & field season slipped through her grasp.
“It was so bad, I just didn’t understand and I guess it was just coming from [the fact that] I never got injured,” Goodman said. “I was looking forward to my first meet and it couldn’t happen. I knew I just had to keep pushing and keep working out in the ways that I could.”
Forde said that Goodman’s modified workout and fitness regimen while she was injured, which consisted of swimming, cycling and weight-lifting with her teammates, was not an effective replacement for her specialization in hurdling.
“In our world, you can’t supplement the actual running [and] hurdling for all the water, biking and all those things that you do,” Forde said. “That’s part of the recovery process at least to get her back in the swing of things, but all of that has taken away from her progress as a natural runner [and] hurdler.”
“The fear for me is [figuring out] how much do you push her and have her do when she is out there [training],” Forde added. “[We’re] trying to find that balance that is going to allow her to still train and still get the benefits but not push her to that point where it is going to aggravate that old injury.”
Along with Forde, Goodman had the support of the only other 400 hurdler on the team, senior Kaitlyn McSurdy.
“When I found out she signed with Temple, I was pretty excited to finally have a training partner again,” McSurdy said. “She has a very eager personality, [and] having someone who is very enthusiastic about [training] helps me as well as I hope I’m helping her.”
Despite her setbacks, Goodman has competed in Temple’s first three meets of the spring season, and posted a personal-best 1 minute, 5.23 second-mark in the 400 hurdles last Saturday at the Mason Spring Invitational.
Forde praised Goodman on her perseverance, but said he wants to work with her to make sure she listens to her body in the future if any pain returns.
“Because she wants to do better every day, she is the kind of person that will push herself through some of the pain that can come with the injuries that she had,” Forde said. “Until her body gets used to training consistently, it is always going to be those things that can draw back and take away from [her training].”
“I know that things are going to get better,” Goodman added. “I really want my times to get better [and] it was a minor setback for a major comeback. I’m ready to just run.”
Tyler Device can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.