Norton, Mass.- Today's spotlight is on Wheaton alum, Niara Woods '02. Woods was a member of the Wheaton Women's Cross Country and Track & Field teams. During her time with the Lyons, she was a multi-time All-American, National Champion and member of 6 national championship team titles.
Name: Niara Lyn Woods
Sport: Cross Country and Track & Field
Hometown: Philadelphia (Philly)(Philly)
Question & Answer
How did you get into running?
I first started running at the age of 9 and we use to have relay races on the street I used to live on so one particular day I had to run against a boy needless to say I beat the boy, past him and then left him behind eating my dust that's when I knew I had some talent.
What was your path to end up at Wheaton College?
I had a high school counselor named Mr. Neibower who told me about Wheaton and also a girlfriend named Deshawnda Williams, Wheaton Alum (HOF) and track power house who attended Simon Gratz High School with me as my teammate there. She encouraged me and inspired me to come join forces with her up at Wheaton because she was already there for two years before I got there. She said that if I was to come there that we could build a strong team and be recognized as a Division III power house track program. So once that happened the rest was history we became 6-time National Champions, I became a 14 Time All-American and currently the school record holder in the 800 meters(outdoors) with a time of 2:13.00.
What was your favorite part about Wheaton Women's Cross Country/Track and Field?
My favorite part was how we always use to come together around Nationals time and cheer each other on no matter what the event was the bond we had and shared during them times could never be broken.
What has your journey been following Wheaton College?
After Wheaton I moved back to Philly and worked in the behavioral health field for about a total of 16 years serving in the capacity of being a Mental Health Case Manager and also a Drug and Alcohol Case Manager.
What are you up to now?
Now I am currently an Instructional Aide full time over at Springfield Township High School in Montgomery County where I work with students with Autism. I am also the Head boys and girls Cross Country coach at Springfield as well as the Head boys and girls Winter Track coach. If that wasn't enough I also am one of the Head Track Coaches on my daughter's Club Team in which myself and a few others started called the Philly Factor Track Club. Needless to say when I'm not working or coaching I love having the pleasure of conversing and having drawing contest with my beautiful daughter Lauren Nicole who will be turning 11 in October. She is my motivation and what keeps me going. I am the better because of her and the reason I came out of retirement from the sport of track and field because now she does it and is really good at it.
What is your most memorable moment from your years spent at Wheaton College?
One memory that comes to mind is when one of my teammates got hurt and couldn't run on the relay so I was the deciding factor to run on it in place of the injured athlete. My leg which was third on the 4x4 was so significant because I had a job to do and it was to get the baton around to my teammate Deshawnda Williams in a lead ahead of Lincoln because that was our competition at the time and who we needed to beat in order to win the NCAA championship that year. It felt good knowing that I contributed to that big win for our team that year indoors back in 2000.
Rapid Fire Questions
Favorite place to eat in Norton, Ma?
Sorry didn't have a favorite place because I stayed on campus mostly and didn't have a car to get around in.
Favorite event to attend at Wheaton College?
The Wheaton Invitational held at the College every year
Favorite Sports Team?
New England Patriots
Favorite place on the Wheaton College campus?
The Haas Athletic Center for sure a lot of time, energy, blue sweat and tears happened at that place.
Sister Act ll