By Betsy Tanenbaum
Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, once said, “What we think, we become.” For most young athletes, identifying with this idea and putting it into place before athletic competitions is rare. This philosophy, however, is one that junior Derrick Wang connects with while on the track.
As Wang steps up to the starting line on the track, he immediately envisions himself crossing the finish line, leaving his opponents in the dust. For Wang, this mental image is not only a source of inspiration, but also helps define the moment in time and his specific goal.
Though Wang was not always a top competitor in Track and Field, he believes that this success has stemmed from a combination of vigorous physical training and mental focus since ninth grade. “My parents always told me I was fast, even as a toddler, and encouraged me to try sprinting in middle school. However, the turning point for me was when I placed top three in the 100-meter dash in the Freshman/ Sophomore Championship,” said Wang. This was the first time that Wang realized he could compete with some of the fastest runners on Long Island.
In order for Wang to reach his goals, he follows a strict training schedule. Wang trains six days a week with his practices varying in intensity. Some days, the team will work on starts and endurance, while on other days the team focuses on specific workouts. These workouts are created by coach Damon Reader and are designed to increase speed and endurance. Wang and the other sprinters must complete these workouts in specific time increments. “Coach Reader is constantly pushing me to do better,” said Wang. “He knows exactly what I need to do in order to improve.”
In addition to Wang’s involvement on the school track team, he also competes at USA Track and Field (USATF) meets with the Elmont Panthers Track Club. Wang also spent a weekend over the summer at Winged Foot Track Camp. His dedication to running is likely the reason for his improvement and overall success. His best time is 6.75 seconds in the 55-meter dash and 11.10 seconds in the 100-meter dash. Coach Reader admires that Wang takes it upon himself to find outside programs that will help him become the best he can be. Reader acknowledges that his success is not only due to his hard work, but also a result of the “god-gifted” fast twitch muscle fibers in his legs.
Despite Wang’s achievements, including being named All American at the USTAF National Youth Championship, All Long Island at the Long Island Elite Meet, All Conference in the Conference Championships, a participant at the USTAF Junior Olympics, and the winner of three Coaches Awards, he hopes to improve his times by the end of his high school career. “I hope to run 6.62 seconds in the 55-meter dash, and 10.95 seconds in the 100-meter dash,” said Wang.
“Derrick is the fastest kid on the team, which automatically makes him a leader,” said coach Reader. “He continues to show personal growth, which is all a coach can hope for.”
Though Wang feels positive about what he has accomplished thus far, he is not satisfied. “I will continue working towards maintaining the right attitude and doing all I can to help the team.”