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National Track & Field Hall of Fame Q&A: Connie Price-Smith



In advance of National Track & Field Hall of Fame induction ceremony on November 3 in New York City, USATF interviewed Class of 2016 inductees on their athletic careers and legacies.


Today's feature: Connie Price-Smith


Modern Athlete Inductee Connie Price-Smith (Saint Charles, Missouri) owns the distinction of being the winningest USATF female combo athlete in the shot put and discus. She made every U.S. national team from the 1987 World University Games to 2001 World Indoors.


Since ending her competitive career, Connie spent 14 seasons at the helm of Southern Illinois University’s track & field program and most recently served as the head women’s coach for the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team at the Rio Olympic Games. She is currently in her second season as the head track & field coach at the University of Mississippi. Click here for a full bio.


How did you get started in track and field and when did you first realize your potential? “I started track and field in the ninth grade - it was the first time I ever saw a shot put and a discus. I threw all through high school but didn't compete in college until my senior year. When I went back out for the team, John Smith [my coach and now husband] was an athlete as well. He told me that within like a year I could have what it takes to be a world class thrower.


It was fun and I got to go to a couple meets and I went to Nationals. My second time at Nationals, I won and made three international teams. From there, I just knew that this was what I wanted to do.”


On a highlight from her competition days: "I don't have just one moment but, when I won in 1987 in San Jose that was really cool because I had really just started throwing and I didn't really know what it was about. It was exciting and I remember making three world teams.


When I was driving back home after I got a bit overwhelmed because it was like, 'Wow, you just made three world teams in a sport that you’re fairly new in.' That was really a defining moment for me."


On building a family within track and field: "I think that one of the greatest aspects of this sport is the people that I've met who have become like my family. Track and field is just one big network and you see each other all the time. The people that you competed with at World Championships and Olympic Games, you become very close with. Those are the people that are a part of my family and will always be. USA Track & Field has done so much in making it such a close knit group and making everyone feel like a family.”


On what motivated her as a competitive athlete: "I think my motivation for competing is probably same thing that motivates me throughout my life, which is wanting to do it the best that I can do it. I want to know that when I'm done and look in the mirror, I know that I tried everything with all my heart and left nothing on the table.


My mom used to always tell me, 'Whatever is you want to do, you can do it but you better do it.' That's what I always try to remember... My mom was my biggest motivator and idol. She was always there, encouraging me - both she and my dad. I never wanted to let them down so whenever I was doing something, I wanted them to be proud."


On being named Head Women's Coach for Team USA in Rio: "Rio was absolutely wonderful. It was great to be able to get selected as the Head Coach there, but then it was really great to have athletes there that I worked with on daily basis [from Ole Miss]. I think that's something that every coach would love to have happen.”


On being inducted into the National Track & Field Hall of Fame: "This is the biggest Hall of Fame that you can be in as an athlete. That's your goal, to be able to say that you were successful enough to be recognized somewhere where there are so many great people who have accomplished so much. So to go in knowing all of those that came before me, it's just an amazing honor and one that I wasn't expecting."


The Class of 2016 will be inducted at USATF’s second annual Black Tie & Sneakers Gala on November 3 in New York City. The red carpet event will also feature stars from the Olympic Games in Rio, as well as Legacy Award and Groundbreaker Award presentations. Proceeds benefit USATF’s Elite Mentorship Program. Visit for more information.


For more on all 2016 National Track and Field Hall of Fame inductees, click here.


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