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Jumping for New Heights

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Written by Andie Hagemann, USC blog contributor

Mother's Day is just around the corner and it happens to coincide with the Pac-12 Championships this weekend. For Alitta Boyd, she has much to be thankful for as her mother was the one who initially involved her in track and field.

DSC_1697.jpg"My mom was a retired police officer from Oakland and they had this organization called Oakland Police Activities League," Boyd said. "When I was younger, she got me involved because she noticed I had so much energy running around as a child. Track is a growing sport in which you can start at such a young age and continue to do it until your nineties. I started track when I was five. I did get involved in other sports but at the start of high school, I found that track was the sport that I liked best."

Boyd competes in both the long jump and triple jump events. She ranks fourth all-time by a Trojan female in the triple jump. In the long jump, she ranks just outside the USC Top 10.

"The long jump is just run as fast as you can, jump and keep your speed throughout your jump," Boyd said. "The triple jump is a little more technical. You have to have speed but you need to know how to use your speed throughout the jump. I'm a right foot jumper so I go off the board with my right foot and land on my right foot. I alternate and jump on my left before jumping into the sand. It takes coordination. If you're off balance, you'll land on your face in the sand. It's a big difference but you have to carry your speed through both jumps."

This year, Boyd was appointed as one of the team captains by several coaches. For Alitta, being a captain is not just a title, it's a lifestyle. "Being a captain is actually more of a responsibility than people realize," Boyd said. "It's not just something that you put on your resume. You can't just motivate from words, your actions and practices have to show it. You have to be involved with your team so they know that you care enough and that you deserve to be in that position."

In true captain fashion, Boyd is overjoyed when her teammates claim victories and personal records. "There are many memorable moments but one that stands out is when one of the former jumpers, Ben Brown, threw javelin," Boyd said. "He was a jumper for four years and started trying javelin his senior year. The Dual Meet came up and he won and set a personal record by 10 feet. Everyone went crazy because he won. We all wondered why he didn't try javelin earlier in his career. I get more excited when others improve rather than me. If I PR when I jump, I'm not excited at all because I know I need to go beyond that. But I love seeing my teammates improve rather than myself."

Boyd's final conference meet is on the horizon and she holds ambitious goals for each of her events.

"I have huge goals that I want to reach for myself this weekend. It has been a long journey and I am definitely not taking this weekend for granted," Boyd said. "I am a senior so this is my last Pac-12 meet ever. I definitely want to PR on all of my jumps and get to the goals I set for myself five years ago. Hopefully, my performance can inspire the rest of my team to do just as well."

Alitta intends to continue her track and field career post-graduation. Though the path is unclear at the moment, she will make her dream a reality. "I've put too many years into this to just stop. I think people short themselves of what's available outside of collegiate track and field," Boyd said. "There are so many opportunities on the elite level. I think it is all about a mindset because a lot of people don't think they can be elite. They don't believe that they can push themselves further than they have. I definitely want to continue. Professional is looking very nice right now and that is the route I'm traveling."

Boyd and the Trojans will host the Pac-12 Championships on Saturday and Sunday at Loker Stadium.

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