The roles and responsibilities for Skye Dawson have drastically changed from this point last year. However, the Florida A&M track & field head coach’s steady leadership, words of wisdom and push for excellence remain intact.
Dawson, who was promoted from interim to full-time head coach this summer, has his team on a season-long mission of upward mobility. The first task begins Saturday in South Carolina at the Clemson Opener.
“There’s a lot of positive energy coming into this season,” Dawson said. “The main objective for this meet is where we stand at mentally and physically. We’re interested in seeing where our athletes stand for endurance. This will be the blueprint and we’ll progress from there.”
For this opening meet, Dawson will have runners competing in longer events. This strategy is designed as a customized workout to increase their strength. They’ll resume their normal events as in future meets.
FAMU lost several athletes from last year due to graduation or transfers. As a result, there’s a mass influx of newcomers throughout the roster.
Among the fresh faces is women’s head coach Nadia Alexander-Pompey.
The former Louisiana Tech star joined the team in the offseason. Her previous coaching experience included stints at Virginia State, Shaw and Mississippi Valley State.
Alexander-Pompey’s duties at FAMU include overseeing the women’s program. She also works with the throwers for both teams.
“As someone from the Caribbean (Kingston, Jamaica), I’ve always wanted to be in Florida. I’ve always looked at Florida A&M and noticed they had a great program,” she said.
“When the opportunity presented itself, I was excited. I had all those bubbly feelings you get inside. It’s a program that I can see do damage not only in the MEAC but regionally and nationally.”
WATCH: FAMU star thrower Alelee Figueroa on competing for 2019-20 indoor track & field season. Rory Sharrock, Tallahassee Democrat
FAMU also has a solid mix of veterans. One of the women leading the charge is thrower, Alelee Figueroa.
During her last competition at the MEAC Outdoor Track & Field Championships, the senior from Orlando took first in the hammer throw with a toss of 50.42 meters. She wants to build upon that feat with the onset of the indoor season.
“It’s the first meet of the season. It’s my senior year and I’m super excited to see what we can do this year,” Figueroa said.
“When I come out here, I clear my mind and remain focused. Taylor Gorum, who’s no longer here with us, set the record in the weight throw with 19.11. Hopefully, I can break her mark this year.”
Along with Figueroa, additional marquee athletes competing in the first meet are T.J. Ashley (sprinter/distance), Jaydon Sanford (hurdles), Kamron Lawrence (high jump, distance) and Kynnydy McCullough (thrower).
This is the first of two meets at Clemson for the indoor season. FAMU makes a return trip to South Carolina on Saturday, Jan. 11 for the Orange & Purple Elite.
What: Clemson Opener
Where: Clemson Indoor Track & Field Complex – Clemson, South Carolina
When: Saturday, Dec. 7 (all day)
Follow FAMU beat writer Rory Sharrock on Twitter @rattlernews and @married2game1.