By David Villavicencio
CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Taneisha Cordell grew up an Ohio State fan in Columbus, Ohio, but the standout athlete knew exactly where she wanted to continue her athletic and academic careers: Miami.
Cordell, who stars for the Hurricanes in middle distance events, snubbed the hometown Buckeyes in favor of an opportunity to run under the tutelage of Miami's legendary track coach, Amy Deem.
"Ohio State did recruit me," Cordell said. "I just knew I didn't want to stay home in Ohio. I always wanted to come down south, somewhere sunny. I got the opportunity. I heard from the University of Miami. I was excited. I came on my visit and everything fell into place."
The soon to be 20-year-old has gotten off to a strong start for the Hurricanes. Cordell won the women's 600m run at the New Mexico Classic and has been a contributor on the women's 4x400m relay team that has had a lot of success this indoor season.
Cordell, who was an all-state runner all four years in high school, expected to dominate in college from the very beginning. But the sophomore quickly realized that it would take a lot of hard work to reach the goals she set for herself.
"I honestly thought I was going to come in and I was going to be super fast, maybe a national champ," Cordell said. "It was a rude awakening. I had to basically start from the bottom. I'm training with best, competing with the best, and it is a process. I'm getting there. I'm working my way up and I'm excited to where I'm heading."
The Ohio native did not always have the positive outlook she clearly displays today. In fact, there were times early in her Hurricane career where Cordell thought about giving up.
"It was really frustrating," Cordell said. "I think every athlete goes through it and at one point I wanted to quit. I think every athlete goes through it. I had the conversation with my mom. 'Mom, I want to come home.' It's just the love for the sport, the motivation, the fact that I want to be the best, want to continue to do the best that I can. I can't quit. I'm excited and like I said it's a working process and I'm excited."
Cordell has set several lofty goals for herself. Ever the competitor, she aspires to reach the peak of her sport, but she knows it takes time to get to the top.
"This year, I have big goals for myself," Cordell said. "I definitely want to be a top placer in a national championship. I see that in my future and I know I'm capable of doing it, but this year I'm taking baby steps. This year, I really plan on putting myself in a good position to place in conference and eventually get to Indoor Nationals. It's just getting my time down, working on myself. Everything will work itself out."
One reason Cordell might be having success this year is the arrival of Alaine Tate. A transfer from Hampton University, Tate and Cordell train together and compete in a lot of the same events. Tate's presence has helped push Cordell like she has never been pushed before.
"It's really very competitive in practice, but it's a good competitive," Cordell said. "We do push each other. It's different because in high school it was just me. I didn't really have anyone else pushing me, so in practice it really helps to have someone of the same caliber pushing you. You're tired, she's pushing you. She's tired, I'm pushing her. It really helps us get through the workout and in the end, it helps out with our races because we're ready to compete."
The duo's hard work paid off recently as they finished in the top two in the women's 600m at the New Mexico Classic. Cordell was victorious and Tate finished just behind her, but Cordell was excited to see both of them run an excellent race.
"It was really exciting," Cordell said. "It's great to accomplish big things, breaking records and everything, but when you have your team doing good to, it's just more motivation to keep going out there and keep on winning. No one wants to win alone."
While Cordell loves to run track, she has other interests that she plans to focus on once her athletic career ends. A broadcast journalism major, Cordell is very interested in going into entertainment.
"I like to sing," Cordell said. "I'm kind of working my way into that. But obviously if the opportunity comes in track, to be an Olympian, I would definitely take the opportunity. After track ends, my dream is to be in the entertainment business."
Cordell likes to sing R&B and is inspired by the likes of Beyonce, Mary J. Blige and Mariah Carey. But she is also interested in working as an on-camera talent.
" I want to work my way up because nothing's guaranteed," Cordell said. "I can definitely see myself in front of the camera. I think it would be cool. It fits me well."
Whether it is singing, reporting or running track, Cordell is going to work hard to succeed at anything she wants to do. And that is something that will benefit her and Miami's track program.