Our Team

Mechelle Lewis Freeman - CEO

Mechelle Lewis Freeman / Founder & CEO

A Maryland native, Mechelle Lewis Freeman is a graduate of the University of South Carolina where she obtained her Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Mass Communications.  She was a member of the 2002 Women’s Outdoor Track & Field team who brought the first National Championship in any sport to the university.  Mechelle is a Track & Field 2007 Pan American Double Silver Medalist, 2007 World Champion, and 2008 Olympian.  Her events included the 100 meters and the 4×100 meter relay.   When off the track, Mechelle turns her focus to her career in brand and activation management for companies including, Coca Cola and Xerox and shares her Olympic journey through motivational speaking.

Founded in 2015, TrackGirlz ® LLC. was born after she realized how underutilized and unrecognized phenomenal world class track and field women and girls were considered. Mechelle sees an opportunity for TrackGirlz to provide a consistent voice to help create and maintain relevance for track girls beyond the Olympic Games through apparel and fitness events, authentic lifestyle choices for track girls.

Connect with Mechelle on LinkedIn

Rikki Hightower - Creative Director

Rikki Hightower / Lead Fashion & Style Influencer

As a former track and field and basketball high school athlete, editor of the school paper, drama kid, and member of the National Art Society, Rikki Hightower knows a thing or two about what it means to be part of something greater than yourself, something that drives you to be competitive, and ultimately the best at whatever you put your mind to. That passion and vision lit a fire in Rikki that has never been snuffed.

Now, as a Style and Beauty Lifestyle Coach, Rikki realized she could never shake her interest in being creative nor leave her passion for health and fitness behind.  She has a Bachelor’s Degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus in Exercise Science  and Psychology.  With this background, Rikki is not only able to assist her clients in selecting amazing wardrobe pieces or handling their makeup artistry needs for red carpet events, but she can also impact their lives where it counts – cultivating self-esteem that isn’t fleeting after the layers of clothing and makeup are removed. A large portion of her lifestyle coaching is motivated from a holistic approach, and she plans to share as much of her holistic beauty treatments, makeup-tips, health/nutrition, and fashion tips on the TrackGirlz blog as much as possible!

Rikki is mother to the amazing Sir Lennox Collins (and yes he has a hash tag!), wife to NFL athlete Tim Hightower, owner of HDimages, a business where she focuses on all things style and image including, makeup, wardrobe, and health consultations.   She has worked along side amazing makeup artists such as Tim Quinn and Rhona Samuels with Giorgio Armani and YSL Beauty. She is currently a leading make up artist in a Richmond, Virginia studio that has be listed in Bride Magazine in 2014 and 2015.

Follow Rikki on Instagram.

Holley DeShaw / Lead Wellness Influencer – Recovery

 

When it comes to Medical Teams for USA Track and Field or working with an Elite Athlete in Track and Field this girl has done it.  From the Olympics, the Pan American Games, Continental Cup and Diamond League events all over the world to working with athletes such as Allyson Felix, Shannon Rowbury, Christian Taylor, Matt Centrowitz, Ashton Eaton, Justin Gatlin and Michelle Carter to name a few.  She has extensive experience in remedial, rehab and sports performance therapy spanning over a decade of working with some of the most elite athletes in the world.  She also works with athletes in the NBA and NFL and is a Medical Spokesperson and product developer consultant for new product lines with KTTAPE.   She has been featured in numerous publications including Runners World, Running Times, Sports Massage for Runners and the Sports Bank to name a few.

Holley J. DeShaw, LMT,CKTP
2016 Nike Therapist USATF Olympic Trials
2015-present IC/Medical Spokesperson/New Product Development KTHEALTH
2014-present IC/Therapist for Individual Athletes NFL/NBA/T&F
2013 Nike Therapist Pre/Nationals/Worlds T&F Teams
2012 Olympic Medical Team Member
2012 USATF Olympic Trials Massage Team Co-Captain
2011 Pan American USATF Medical Team Member, & World Championships USATF Medical Team Member,
2010 USATF World Continental Cup Medical Team Member
2009 USATF World Youth & USACK World Championships Medical Team Member

Advisory Board

Dan O’Brien – Olympic Gold Medalist

Millions of Americans proudly watched Dan O’Brien win the 1996 Olympic Gold Medal to become the first American winner in the sport since 1976. As an Olympic Gold Medalist in the decathlon, Dan O’Brien is officially considered the “World’s Greatest Athlete,” and his name is synonymous with athletic achievement and success both on and off the field.  Dan has spent his entire life overcoming obstacles. He went on to win the 1993 and 1995 World Championships, the 1994 Goodwill Games, and three US Championships – all leading to the 1996 Olympic Gold Medal in Atlanta.

Today Dan continues to give back to the sport that has given so much to him. He is the on-field emcee for every major USA Track & Field event, and he’s also heavily involved as both a host and celebrity athlete for USATF’s Win with Integrity program, a community outreach and mentoring program designed to help kids make good life decisions, set positive goals and adhere to a drug-free lifestyle. Dan also works very closely with the United States Olympic Committee as part of its Olympic Ambassador Program, mentoring current athletes in the areas of media training, preparation and peak performance.

He has become a highly sought motivational speaker, bringing his inspirational story to the employees and leaders of some of the biggest companies in the world, and over the years he has worked as both a color commentator and guest analyst for networks such as ESPN, CBS and NBC. He was a part of Yahoo! Sports 2012 Olympic coverage from London.  Today Dan resides with his wife Leilani in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he is entering his seventh year as an assistant volunteer coach at Arizona State University.  Dan also trains athletes of all ages in sports ranging from tennis to football.  He can be found most days in a nearby gym or track.

Sasha Spencer Atwood – Director of Marketing & Athlete Services, TrackTownUSA

Sasha Spencer Atwood is the Director of External Affairs for TrackTown USA, Inc. Her experience in track and field and familiarity with the organizations that govern the sport position her well to foster relationships and maintain dialogue with major stakeholders, including USATF, IAAF, USOC, state government and many community partners. Sasha joined TrackTown in 2011 as the Director of Athlete Services, a focus she maintains in her current role.

She is a member of the team responsible for delivering the 2012 and 2016 U.S. Track & Field Olympic Team Trials and has played a meaningful role in the successful international bids for the 2014 IAAF World Junior Track & Field Championships, the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Track & Field Championships and the 2021 IAAF Track & Field World Championships.

In 2001, Sasha earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Business from Georgetown where she was a 3-time Big-East individual Champion and an 11-time NCAA All-American, as well as a member of the Big East Athlete Advisory Committee.  In her time on the Hilltop, she was recognized with team captain and Most Valuable Student Athlete honors by the Hoya coaching staff.  After completing her decorated collegiate career at Georgetown University, Sasha competed as a professional 800m runner for Nike from 2001-2008 where she ran on the international circuit, representing Team USA on several occasions. She was actively involved in USATF’s Athlete Advisory Council, serving as Women’s Middle Distance representative for two terms.

After her retirement as a professional track and field athlete, Sasha started Food 4 Fuel, a business that catered to the unique nutritional needs of professional athletes and hollywood entertainers. Clients included Michael Johnson and Andre Smith of the Cincinnati Bengals, light middleweight boxing champion Vernon Forrest, and The Blind Side star Quinton Aaron. She went on to work in feature film production until her move to Oregon.  Sasha and her husband are the loving parents of daughter Eden and son Major, who enjoy the adventures that each day brings on their rural Oregon farm.

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Sandra Farmer-Patrick – Olympic Medalist/USA Track & Field Athlete’s Advisory Committee Advisor

One of the world’s best ever women’s 400m hurdlers, Sandra set an American Junior record of 58.90 in the 400m hurdles at age 14.  Her collegiate competition for the University of Arizona and Cal State Los Angeles yielded a few high NCAA finishes, but her career really took off in 1984 when she finished 8th at the Olympic Games, in Los Angeles (57.15) for her native Jamaica. Moving on to compete for the U.S., some of her track and field career highlights in the 400m hurdles include a Silver medal at the 1992 Olympic Games, Gold medal at the 1989 World Cup (53.84).  Gold medal at the 1992 World Cup, Silver medal at the 1993 World Championships (52.79), Silver medal at the 1987 Pan American Games (54.59) and Gold medal at the 1990 Goodwill Games (55.16).

During her career in track and field, Sandra obtained her B.A in Industrial Psychology, and M.S in Healthcare Professions – Human Resources. Upon retirement in 2001, she devoted her energies as a full time mother to her daughter Sierra Channel Patrick and son David–Marquis Patrick and also served as the Chair for USA Track & Field’s Athlete’s Advisory Committee. In her role as Athlete’s Advisory Chair, she spent most of her time creating and implementing Athlete Service Programs for Elite Athletes, which included: Developing strategies to enhance relations and communications with athlete goals and performances, post collegiate scholarship funds, and athlete support programs.

She currently resides in Texas with her family where she is a HR Manager for Staffing and Recruiting for Seton Healthcare Family. Her passion for the sport still continues today, as she spends time behind the scenes as USA Track & Field Athlete’s Advisory Committee Advisor, working in a sport where she can be effective and make a difference.

Julee Wilson Essence Magazine Fashion & Beauty Director

Although a Westtown School track girl in high school and a scholarship track and field athlete at the University of Richmond competing as a sprinter, Julee Wilson went on to focus her career on her knack for style and beauty. Before becoming the Senior Fashion Editor at The Huffington Post, Wilson was previously the Staff Fashion Editor at Real Simple magazine before making the jump to digital in 2011. She started her career with internships at Bergdorf Goodman, Vibe magazine, Condé Nast Traveler magazine and Parenting magazine. Wilson’s days are filled with writing about the latest and greatest in the worlds of fashion and beauty and obsessively Instagraming her action-packed life. She has shared her love and knowledge for fashion on The Today Show, CBS Early Show, Fox News and more. Wilson resides in Harlem with her handsome husband, adorable son, and a massive shoe collection!

Lacey Henderson – Track and Field Paralympian, Sprinter/Jumper

Lacey Henderson was just nine years old when her leg was amputated above the knee in a lifesaving measure after the diagnosis of a rare soft tissue tumor in her knee. It was a tough time for a young girl, but Lacey’s focus wasn’t on the negative. Instead, raised with the mindset that if you want something in life you’ll find a way to make it happen – no matter the odds against you – an energetic and active Lacey didn’t hesitate to take on the toughest of challenges, including highly competitive cheerleading in high school and at the college level for Denver University.

It was just three years ago that the 24-year old began competing in track and field for the first time since her amputation, and she is quickly making her mark. Currently the American record holder in her competition categories for the 200m and the long jump, Lacey also has her sights on breaking the American record for the 100m.

Competing for a spot at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games has meant plenty of foreign travel and putting her career goals on hold, but that’s just fine with Lacey. With a bachelor’s degree in Spanish, a minor in French and International Studies, and a future Master’s Degree that she hopes will one day land her a job with the US State Department overseas, Lacey feels at ease just about anywhere.

But when she is back home in the US that is also where her heart is. Mindful that her experiences can make a powerful difference in the lives of others, Lacey has joined forces with Dani’s Foundation, a Colorado nonprofit that focuses on the effort for greater awareness of the symptoms of pediatric sarcoma. She also devotes considerable time to mentoring teenage girls dealing with body image issues exacerbated by their limb differences, letting her example guide them to a greater confidence and recognition of their endless potential. “I hope my life experience can help others. I always share that life is so happy, just embrace it and recognize a blessing in disguise. You, too, can learn to fly.”

MZEE

DR. M’ZEE FULA NGENGE – EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS AT JFPI CORPORATION

Dr. M’zée Fula Ngenge is a former athlete and now serves as executive chairman of the Board of Directors at JFPI Corporation, Africa’s largest private holding and empowerment company. He is also the Chairman of the African Diamond Council (ADC), the official governing body for Africa’s diamond-producing countries.

It is through Dr Ngenge’s corporate consortium and via the intergovernmental diamond organization he currently administers that effectively positions him to successfully develop, launch and sustain youth-based projects in Africa as well as sustain a multitude of global initiatives, such as TrackGirlz, that are specifically designed to effectively empower women and girls.

For more than three decades, M’zée has remained at the top of the global diamond industry and financial sectors, utilizing these two challenging areas of activity to support his passion to educate and emancipate Africa as well as globally highlight African intellect.  As a result of his innate zeal, relentlessness and success in the international professional arena, his abiding and profound contributions have also secured his legacy as Africa’s most valuable global ambassador for Olympic and Paralympic sports.

M’zée is also one of Africa’s most commanding patrons of African academics, media, music, films, tourism and basketball. This globally respected powerbroker operates as a senior advisor to several African government Ministries and is actively involved in several of the world’s top Athletics Committees and Sports Federations. He regularly attends international sports competitions, music festivals and cultural events, particularly those activities that highlight African excellence. Dr M’zée Fula Ngenge has erected quite an impressive cultural bridge from Africa to the rest of the world and continues to encourage many like-minded aspiring leaders to join his efforts to continue elevating Africa.

Sharrieffa

SHARRIEFFA BARKSDALE – OLYMPIAN & USATF ALUMNI MANAGER

Sharrieffa Barksdale, a 1984 Olympian in the 400m hurdles and silver medalist in the 400m hurdles Pan American Games. Barksdale was a standout athlete at Harriman High School (Harriman, Tennessee) and college at the University of Tennessee. She is a 12-time collegiate All-American, and was the first collegiate woman to run the 400 meter hurdles in under 55 seconds, breaking the American record at the time. She was inducted into the University of Tennessee Athletics Hall of Fame. She has served on the USATF Women’s Track and Field committee, Diversity committee, Background screening committee, Law and Legislation committee, and as an AAC Liaison. She has served on several USATF international teams, providing managerial and staffing assistance, including Asst. Coach World Junior Team Grosseto Italy 2004, Athlete Liaison Junior Pan American Team Windsor Canada 2005, Pool Manager World Junior Team Beijing China 2006, Pool Manager World Champion Team Osaka Japan 2007, Pool Manager 2008 Olympic Team Beijing China, Head Manager 2009 Junior Pan American Team Port of Spain, Pool Manager 2009 World Championship Berlin Germany, Event Manager 2011 World Championship Daegu Korea, 2012 Olympic Team Event Manager Loudon England, 2016 Olympic Team Event Manager Rio, Owner of One on One Training Academy. She’s also one of the founders of Maximum Velocity Track and Field Academy Camp. Ms. Barksdale works for USATF national office where she’s the Manager of Alumni Relations in Indianapolis Indiana. She has two children Gentel and Javarus.