Teasha McKoy

Teasha McKoy ’22 started her track career as a sprinter and a jumper before switching to discus.

PROFILE: Teasha McKoy ’22, Lehigh Women’s Track and Field

The senior is a founding member of the Student-Athletes of Color Leadership Council and an executive board member for Flight 45.

Story by

Stephen Gross

Photography by

Stephanie Veto

In the discus, Teasha McKoy ’22 has already earned 2021 All-East honors and was second team All-Patriot League in 2019. Now she’s off to a strong start in her senior indoor track and field season, taking the top spot in both the shot put and weight throw at the Fast Times Before Finals meet in December. McKoy’s also a founding member of the Student-Athletes of Color Leadership Council and an executive board member for Flight 45, a program that promotes, develops and inspires leadership in the Lehigh athletic community.

Major: Architecture with a minor in real estate

YOU'VE BEEN INTERESTED IN ARCHITECTURE SINCE NINTH GRADE. WHAT PIQUED YOUR INTEREST?
I was doing a research paper, and I came across Frank Lloyd Wright and Japanese architecture. The relationship that he had with it, that's what really drew me in. I like the balance of Japanese architecture, the symmetry. And the way Frank Lloyd Wright connected Japanese influences with his architecture is just really interesting to me.

WOULD BEING AN ARCHITECT AT A LARGE FIRM IN A BIG CITY BE YOUR DREAM JOB?

Not necessarily. I would love to be an architect, but I've been thinking about what I actually want to get out of it. And that's, basically, design justice and having good quality of architecture being available to everyone, not just people who can afford it. So I don't know if that would really look like me—being in a big firm in the city—because I don't know if that's necessarily something that a big firm that makes a lot of money would be focusing on. I'm interested in real estate development too.

WHAT GOT YOU STARTED IN TRACK AND FIELD?

My brother ran before my sister and I did. He's seven years older than us. I started when I was 4 and she started when she was 5. My brother was going to practice every day, and my mom just thought it's more convenient to have these extremely energetic twins go to practice and run off all their energy too.

Teasha McKoy

THERE ARE INDOOR AND OUTDOOR SEASONS FOR TRACK. WHICH DO YOU PREFER?

I get this a lot. I don't really think I have a preference. By the time each season comes around, I'm prepared to move into that season. By the time winter comes, by the time indoor season comes, I'm ready to stop throwing outside and throw inside. And then by the time spring season comes, I'm ready to transition outside. It's just the way the timeline works. I feel like because I've adapted so much to it over the years, I’m prepared for it. Subconsciously, it just feels natural, the transition. Obviously it takes a little bit of time to complete the transition and to adapt well, but I don't have a preference. I'm just ready for whichever one when it comes.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE FOR YOU?

The most obvious one is that there are slightly different events because you can throw farther outdoors. With that, I throw the discus and the hammer instead of the weight throw. The circles are different materials. Mindset-wise, I don't think it can be different. It's competition season no matter what. You have to be in the right mindset for competition. You have to be in the right mindset for training and practicing. I don't think it really affects my mindset at all or how I approach the sport. It's just the physical differences, like going from wood to concrete and throwing longer-distance events.

WHAT’S MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT THROWING?

It's probably the most mental aspect of track and field. It's very technical. You have to imagine when you're competing, one attempt is over within, like, a second. So you have to be able to apply all of your technique in one short span of time, and then hope that all of your hard work pays off for that one throw. That's what makes throwing so difficult—being mentally tough enough to kind of hang in there and just try to make sure that at least one rep pays off. One throw allows you to apply everything you've learned throughout the years, basically. It's all over in a flash, a second.

DID YOU PLAY ANY OTHER SPORTS GROWING UP?

I did karate for a few years. I almost made black belt, but then I got bored. I moved on to soccer because my sister had been playing soccer for a year. So I did that. I was like 12 years old.

YOUR TWIN SISTER PORTIA IS ON LAFAYETTE’S TRACK AND FIELD TEAM. IS THERE A BIG RIVALRY?

Not really because we do completely different events. If I was a sprinter still, there probably would be a little bit more tension in our competition season, but I think the rivalry mostly just lies with me being Lehigh and her being Lafayette, not anything with how we compete because we don't really directly compete against each other.

WHEN DID YOU SWITCH FROM SPRINTING TO THROWING?

I actually started off my track career as a sprinter and a jumper. Once I started to develop physically, into more of an adult, I picked up throwing. I was a hurdler in high school through my sophomore year, and then in the fall of my junior year, I broke my ankle in a soccer game. That kind of put me on hold for running and being able to hurdle. That next summer, I tore my ACL, which also ended my soccer career. I don't know why I waited that long [to stop playing soccer], but that ended my soccer career and also finished my running as well. After that, I had to just focus on throwing junior year.

DO YOU ROOT FOR PORTIA INDIVIDUALLY OR DO YOU FIND YOURSELF ROOTING FOR LAFAYETTE IF THEY’RE NOT FACING LEHIGH?

I definitely root for her. We joined the sport together, and we've been doing it for 18 years together. My priority is always seeing her develop, thrive and improve. I know she thinks the same about me. While we are on different teams, I think there's also a lot of camaraderie between Lehigh and Lafayette, no matter how people view it and say there’s this disdain for each other. It's not really the case. There's also a lot of camaraderie when [Lehigh and Lafayette are] competing against other Patriot League schools. We typically cheer for each other. Part of it is we’re also very familiar with each other because of the close distance between the schools. But I never want to see her fail, even if she's running against one of my teammates. I'll just cheer for both of them.

Teasha McKoy

WHAT’S YOUR PROUDEST ATHLETIC ACHIEVEMENT?

That's a tough one. I don't know. Hopefully, I won't have had my proudest moment by the time this next season comes because I'm hoping to do a lot of great things. In high school, my freshman year, we won the first league championship in soccer in my school’s history. It was a fun year in general, we had a good track year and a good soccer year. So I’d probably say Friends League soccer champions for the first time.

YOU’RE A FOUNDING MEMBER OF THE LEADERSHIP COUNCIL FOR THE STUDENT-ATHLETES OF COLOR. HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?

Divine [Buckrham ’21]—he was on the football team—got together with some [athletics] advisors and saw that there was a need for a student athletes of color group because Lehigh hadn't had one previously. They eventually gauged the interest of others wanting to take part in creating this legacy and providing a space for us, for athletes of color, to be able to come and feel seen and feel like they're around people who can relate to them. Divine, [former Lehigh volleyball coach] Xiomara "Zee" Ortiz, [Lehigh track and field assistant coach] Khayla [Atte] and all the advisors who were involved, they helped steer everyone who wanted to put the time and effort into creating this thing that would hopefully better the student athlete of color experience at Lehigh.

AND YOU’RE AN EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBER OF FLIGHT 45?

Yeah, Flight 45 is the Leadership Development Program in the Lehigh Athletics department, obviously run by some great advisors—Julie Ammary [director of athletics leadership development], Cait Gillard [assistant director for athletics leadership development] and Katie Guynn [director of student-athlete academic services], shout out. But, yeah, I'm an e-board member. I'm the captain of the student athlete council, because my other co-captains unfortunately had to step away because of commitments in other areas. It's been a fun experience, and I'm just grateful that I've had the opportunity to hopefully impact other student athletes’ lives the way that Flight 45 has impacted mine and allowed me to grow into the person I am today. And also to work on leadership development. Hopefully we've inspired some type of unity within the athletics department. I've learned a lot.

WHO HAS BEEN YOUR BEST MENTORS?

My mom, definitely. She's had the biggest impact on me. Athletically, academically, she was the one who did the research for me when I was doing the college search. I let her do all that stuff. And in terms of athletics and just being responsible, my mom's the biggest influence.

When it comes to leadership, I'd have to say Cait and Julie. They've been huge influences in my career at Lehigh because of Flight 45, my sophomore year, when I was in emerging leaders, that had the biggest impact on me. That's why I wanted to be a part of the e-board, because I became  a better human being because of it, and I learned how to be a leader, and I wanted to be able to help other student athletes feel that type of achievement, that type of fulfillment. Athletically, my coaches have the biggest influence on me. Allison Taub [assistant track and field coach with the throwing group] has been a great addition. She's someone that I've been able to put my trust in.

WHAT’S SOMETHING MOST PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT YOU?

Maybe that I used to knit. I would knit these bracelets that I would just wear in to the ground.

WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT LEHIGH’S TRACK AND FIELD PROGRAM?

The track program at Lehigh has been willing to try to evolve as best as we can and adapt to different situations. The coaches have all made a commitment to trying to make, first, a better track and field program, and then a better Lehigh on top of that. We've been willing to put in the work to try to get to that, to try to make steps towards those goals. I think the coaching staff is the first to admit when they're wrong, and then they take steps to try to amend any mistakes that have been made or try to move forward as a program, trying to make athletes as comfortable as they can be. I'm saying this to refer to the turmoil that we've been in as a society over the past couple of years. And then I've seen the coaching staff try to make efforts to be better people and then obviously that is a trickle-down effect. If you're better as a person, you are able to have that influence on other people around you and the other things that you're doing.

WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT LEHIGH AS A UNIVERSITY?

The campus. That's what brought me as an architecture major. And then, I don't know if I can say this enough, but I think the leadership development and the leadership program that Lehigh Athletics offers has been a great resource for all student athletes. It just helps to make us better people. If we're going to make a better Lehigh, then it starts with a better Lehigh Athletics department. That, as a result, has a positive impact on campus, and hopefully, has more of an influence on campus with non-athletic department people involved.

Story by

Stephen Gross

Photography by

Stephanie Veto

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