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Busta’s Person of the Week: Winston-Salem native Katlin Sherman is training for the Olympic Trials

Busta’s Person of the Week: Winston-Salem native Katlin Sherman is training for  the Olympic Trials
July 19
19:02 2022

By Busta Brown

For The Chronicle

Winston-Salem track star Katlin Sherman has her eyes on the prize: an Olympic gold medal in the 100 meters. “Katlin knows the uphill battle that comes with training for the Olympics,” said Olympic gold medalist Coach Derrick Speas. He believes if anyone from Winston-Salem can do it, it’s Katlin Sherman. 

Sherman’s accolades and accomplishments are very impressive, but they didn’t come easy. During her junior year at Parkland High School, she said everything kind of exploded on her. The track superstar’s father, Brian Sherman, inspired her to become an all-around athlete. “He thought it was very important for me to enjoy my childhood and have fun playing different sports,” said Katlin. But her track coach presented a different challenge. “Coach Hughes, who I love and respect very much, said it would be much harder for me to be the track athlete I want to be if I didn’t do it full time.” 

So, during Katlin’s junior year, track became her main focus and she dominated her opponents, winning the state’s 100m and 200m and receiving the MVP award. The following year she suffered a major ankle injury during the middle of the season. Fortunately, with the support of her two heroes, the superstar athlete was back on track. “With Coach Hughes’ training and Coach Speas’ gifted rehabilitation skills, I was able to help my team by scoring a total of 18 points individually and winning the 100m. My talented teammates and I went on to win our 4th state championship.” 

Parkland’s track team also won the 4×2 at nationals, and Katlin placed in the top five in the 200, adding to another successful year and along with All-American status. She holds the record in high jump, 200 meters indoor, 100 and 200 meters outdoor, and 55 meters indoor. 

After graduating from Parkland High School, she was faced with an extremely difficult decision. “I was offered a chance to run with Coach Speas and train to go pro, but I politely declined and continued my education.” Katlin attended The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full athletic scholarship. Sherman is a bold woman and doesn’t shy away from the truth. “I’ll be honest with you. I was failing at Chapel Hill and that was a hard transition, because I was also one of the top students academically at Parkland.” She said failing in college was due to trying to learn time management “and learning how to communicate with professors was new to me, along with dealing with people from all walks of life,” said Katlin as she continued sharing her experience at UNC Chapel Hill. 

What was most heartbreaking to me was how other Black students treated this intelligent, talented and beautiful queen. “People that looked like me, treated you like you’re less than because I was there on an athletic scholarship. They felt like I wasn’t academically smart enough to stay in class and compete with everyone else.” 

She showed up and showed out! The superstar athlete graduated with a degree in exercise and sports science. 

The college life did take a toll on Katlin. Between the heavy work load from her classes and training for track, Katlin said college broke her spirit. “I barely slept due to studying all night. The stress of trying to balance school and track caused me to stop eating. I lost weight and that made it hard for me to keep up during track practice.” 

She said the coaches expect the athletes to stay on point because they’re on a full scholarship, and all of those challenges began to weigh on her mentally and physically. “I couldn’t do it anymore. Track was my first love. It was my sanctuary and peace, yet it became everything except that,” said Katlin. 

During her senior year in college, she decided to retire from running. In 2021, she received a message from Coach Speas; “We should have run at the USA Olympic trials.” Katlin replied, “I know.” Speas asked her to come back. Katlin said it took her a few months to think it over. When they finally spoke again, she asked her coach and mentor, “Where are we going?” To which he replied, “To the top.” 

And then the training began. “I personally saw something more in her, and I always knew she had the ability to run professionally or even make the USA Olympic Track Team. So, now here we are,” said Coach Derrick Speas. He said with his Olympic training, and Katlin’s personal desire to succeed, the sky’s the limit. “Katlin possesses the work ethic, focus and speed to pull this off. Her journey will inspire other female and male athletes in Winston-Salem to pursue personal athletic goals after college,” said Derrick. 

Katlin credits her mother, Jennifer, and father, Brian, for her unwavering confidence and strength. Although her full scholarship at UNC Chapel Hill wasn’t a smooth ride, because of her parents, she never gave up on her dream of being an Olympic gold medalist. “There isn’t much you can do if you don’t have confidence in yourself. They did an excellent job instilling confidence and always reminding me that I am strong and powerful.” 

Shortly after a few powerful conversations with Coach Speas, Katlin’s fire to run again was lit. So, I asked the high school phenom what makes a great coach? “They speak life and power into the athlete. You may be confident, but haven’t reached your full potential.” She added that there’s so much more depth in an athlete, and a great coach sees that and knows how to bring it out. 

“At one point I stopped running for a couple of years. Then one day I was in a good spirit, so I went outside and started running. It was the best feeling ever!” 

She said while running, you go into a twilight zone. “When you’re running for a while, your body gets exhausted. You have to decide, either you’re going to stop or run through a wall. If you run through that wall, eventually your second wind will come, and you’ll be able to finish your workout.” Katlin said she ran through the wall and realized that is what made her different from everyone else. “At Parkland Coach Hughes used to say, all gas and no breaks, and I forgot that in college.” 

Today, Katlin is back on track. Every day of training is one step closer to accomplishing her dream as an Olympic gold medalist in the 100 meters. Monday through Saturday, she trains from 6 – 11 a.m. Then again from 4 – 9 p.m. “Rehab is also a part of my training, and every day doesn’t require six to eight hours of training,” said Katlin. Between COVID and working at Amazon for two years, I’m playing catch up,” said Katlin. Yet, her confidence remains unwavering. 

I asked the 25-year-old, after training for two years, on a scale of one to ten, how confident is she with winning the gold? “A ten! No matter what the circumstances are, I will always bet on myself.” The Twin City native said making it to the USA Olympics trials with only two years of training will say a lot. She continued, “Making it to the Olympics says wow, I’m good. Winning a medal, especially a gold medal, with two years of training means that I am great.”

My phenomenal Person of the Week is Katlin Sherman. If you would like to show your support for Katlin, send her an email to Katlin.sherman@nullalumni.unc.edu. For financial support, Cash app: $AlphaKate.

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