Catching up with NSAF alums making a difference
Chalonda Goodman has long been mindful of the impact that her half-dozen individual sprint titles at the NSAF’s Nike Outdoor Nationals, plus her opportunity to travel with the NSAF to its Caribbean Scholastic Invitational in Puerto Rico, had on her life – both on and off the track.
But it still gave her chills when she was recently surprised to get to see the video of the grand finale of those NON triumphs, the magical 22.94 200m in 2009 that broke Sanya Richards’ meet record and filled the Newnan, Ga. senior with an unspeakable joy during a finish-line celebration also preserved in the RunnerSpace.com clip.
“That’s the race!” she cried as the 13-year-old video unfolded on her Zoom screen during an interview for this story. “I was just so overwhelmed that I finally did it. I’d been working so hard to finally break 23 seconds and set a new meet record! And it was on Father’s Day, so that was my gift to my dad who had coached me my whole high school career, along with my club coach Lascelles Lewis.”
The unforgettable performance was the peak of Goodman’s career in NSAF competition over three years, starting with a stunning 100m/200m double at the 2007 NON – when she was a sophomore who was not on most folks’ national radar.
Goodman was invited to represent Team NSAF at the above-mentioned CSI in Puerto Rico a few weeks later, where she won the 100m and ran on the 4x100m relay. All of those triumphs at NON, CSI and during her school season in Georgia earned her a berth on Team USA for the 2007 World Youth Championships in Ostrava, Czech Republic, where she concluded a dream year by capturing 200m silver and medley relay gold.
She would go on to sweep the 100m and 200m at NON the next two years, becoming the only athlete to win six individual titles in the 32-year history of NSAF championships. Goodman ran even faster the next week at USA Juniors, 11.17 and 22.74, to make her third international team – repping Team USA in the Pan Am Juniors in Trinidad & Tobago, where she swept the same events.
“I can’t overstate how great of an impact those experiences had on my life, how they really changed my life forever and opened up so many opportunities for me,” Goodman says, “not just from a track standpoint, but later for life in general. They really set the stage for me for the visibility I needed to get my scholarship (University of Texas) and land where I am today. How else was someone going to know about a girl from small town Georgia?”
Indeed, 13 years later, her appreciation of her NON and CSI experiences with the NSAF have grown even greater as her connection with Nike has come full circle. This past spring Goodman became Nike’s North America Track & Field Athlete Marketing Manager – a position that didn’t exist before she came along – and is now helping young athletes achieve their dreams in new ways.
“It’s a dream job,” she says. “I am super excited about this opportunity. When I think about brands, there’s no better brand than Nike, so that was the first choice for me. It goes back to the root of my passion, which is track and field.”
Goodman supports Nike’s priority T&F athletes on the brand marketing plans and recently returned from being on set during the filming of a feature on Olympic 800m gold medalist Athing Mu – herself a 3-time NSAF national champ.
“I loved getting to know her and working with Athing,” Goodman says. She’s an amazing person both on and off the track and a brilliant athlete to work with. I’m excited to have the opportunity to tell athletes’ stories, because oftentimes we only see them on the track, but not who they are outside the sport and the true essence of them as a person. When you really into the root of that, it’s what makes athletes so relatable and makes everyone want to connect with them and follow their journey. That’s what I love being able to tap into, telling those untold stories of athletes.”
Goodman’s marketing skills and story-telling abilities reflect her education at the University of Texas’s McCombs School of Business and nine years as the Global Digital Marketing Program Manager at Texas Instruments in Dallas. They are also a story of an athlete who may not have gotten quite as far as she would have liked as a Longhorn sprinter in NCAA competition and then beyond – due largely in part to two major injuries – but had the perspective and personal qualities to continue to achieve her dreams beyond the track.
And speaking of outstanding personal qualities, Goodman entered and won the 2021 Ms. Black Texas title and then at the Ms. Black USA pageant was named the third runner-up. The achievement speaks volumes of a woman who strives to find new ways to represent and be a role model for young girls looking for inspiration.
“It all goes back to Nike Outdoor Nationals and being on that team in Puerto Rico,” says Goodman. “Those were the first steps, the root and foundation that allowed the doors to open up – the heavens to open up – and set the tone and provide me with visibility that I needed. I’m so thankful to Joy and the whole NSAF team for creating these opportunities for high school athletes.”
Video/Photo credits: (1) 2009 NON girls 200m video upper right courtesy of RunnerSpace.com; (2) Photo middle left of Chalonda and her father Harold, mother Patricia and brother Cedric at the Ms. Black USA pageant; (3) lower right photo of Goodman winning 2009 NON by Vic Sailer.