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. Since then, Mechelle realized the impact of TrackGirlz could be greater as a nonprofit and teamed up with Jennifer Nash Forrester to bring this new direction to life.
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Born and raised in Sacramento, CA, Jennifer Nash Forrester is a health and fitness expert whose competitive spirit and passion for movement are paired with her commitment to helping others. At age 8, she began running track competitively and she would later compete as a collegiate sprinter at the University of Washington. Jennifer motivates women and girls to be authentic and teaches them how to lead healthy, active and well-nourished lifestyles. Her goal is to share her life lessons and experiences with the hope that the next generation can learn from her story and be motivated to achieve their dreams. Jennifer is always learning and growing so she can share the latest and greatest in fitness and nutrition. Most recently she completed her certification to be a holistic health coach through the C.H.E.K Institute. She has been featured in SHAPE, SELF, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Runners World. In 2015, Greatist named her one of 2015’s most influential people in health and fitness and was one of the trainers in Michelle Obama’s 2015 “Let’s Move” campaign. For more information on what she’s up to, check out her website, or connect with her on Instagram.
Virginia Brophy Achman is executive director of Twin Cities in Motion (TCM), the organizer of the region’s premier running events, including the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, a Top 10 U.S. Marathon and a year-round calendar of events. She joined TCM in 2000 as Race Operations Manager and served as Race Director before becoming Executive Director in 2004. During her leadership TCM has evolved into a mission-driven organization that promotes healthy lifestyles through running events and community outreach and contributes a portion of every race dollar to local youth and professional athletes, raising more than $1.1 million annually with its charity partners.
Virginia is active in the running industry and served as Chair of Women's Long Distance Running for USA Track & Field (2008-2012) and President of Running USA (2009-2012). Currently, Virginia is a 26 year volunteer, serving as Chair of Registration for Race for the Cure–Susan G. Komen Twin Cities. Virginia is also serving a two year term on the Running USA Board of Directors and serves on the Marathon Safety and Security Summit Steering committee at the National Center for Spectators Sports Safety and Security (NCS4). Virginia recently joined the TrackGirlz Board of Directors.
A runner herself, Virginia has completed ten marathons. Virginia’s passion for getting the Twin Cities moving is reflected through the many programs TCM offers including corporate wellness and youth running. Through its year round running events, TCM is able to inspire and support individuals and families efforts to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
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.
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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
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 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.
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.
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 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.”