Big 12 Campus Correspondent
In the spring of 2011, Stormy Nesbit was an injury-riddled track athlete at Minnesota searching for a new university to call home.
Now, the vibrant, driven, dedicated and spiritual West Virginia University student-athlete has done just that.
The Roseville, Minn., native, and senior member of the WVU track and field team found more than a university to pursue her career when she transferred to Morgantown; she found a home.
She is surrounded by friends so close that she considers them family, and while on the tails of a record-breaking senior indoor track season, she’s hoping to qualify for the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Track Championships.
Living up to her first name, which means “rough times are now, but better times are ahead,” Nesbit has not only become an athlete, but a standout at WVU.
Nesbit, who earned a spot on the podium in the long jump and triple jump at this year’s Big 12 Indoor Championships, says it wasn’t by accident, but fate, that she ended up in Morgantown.
“I didn’t know who would want me,” said Nesbit. “I was hurt, and I had not been practicing very much. I just reached out to coaches and left it all up to God.”
Reaching out proved to be exactly what assistant coach Shelly-Anne Gallimore wanted to see.
“I saw some things that were not so good, and a lot of things that she could improve on,” explained Gallimore, the 2001 NCAA triple jump champion. “However, I also liked her build and her speed. She wasn’t sure how good she could be at the events she was in, but I told her if she came in and worked hard that I would give her the tools to succeed.”
To say Nesbit – a graphic design and art major - has worked hard is an understatement. She missed qualifying for the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships by two centimeters, and that moment has served as the fuel for her offseason conditioning and success this season.
Stormy’s closest friend and teammate, Chené Townsend, described her work ethic throughout the past year.
“She’s become an extremely hard worker - someone who never gives up,” Townsend said. “She tries to dedicate as much time as she can to each technique to get everything right. When she goes out there, she knows she tried her best, no matter the outcome.”
Gallimore and Townsend have seen her grow as an athlete and a person during her tenure at WVU, and her coach credits Nesbit for that.
“The most improvement she’s made is that she’s grown as a person,” Gallimore said. “She’s come to realize that there is life outside of track and field, and that this is an avenue to get her to where it is that she wants to be.”
Nesbit credits that improvement to Gallimore and stresses that the coach is her sounding board, her role model and most importantly, a blessing, describing her as her guardian angel.
“To have someone like Shelly in my corner is something I am so grateful for,” Nesbit explained. “She helps me when I have my down moments. As much as she says I can fill her shoes and more, I am really just trying to fill half of her shoes.”
This season, Nesbit is stronger than ever. She has taken just one week off of training since her shortcoming last season, and it has put her in the position to be one of the most technically-sound triple jumpers.
The coach-athlete duo could be unstoppable in 2014, as Nesbit says Gallimore understands every ache, technique and dream that the senior has for her final year of competition.
Townsend explained that Nesbit values competition and hard work, and that being her closest friend, she knows how desperately she wants to qualify for NCAAs. The time is now, and Nesbit is taking advantage of that.
“She is definitely realizing that this is the last season she has,” Townsend said. “She’s yearning for a spot at the NCAA Championships. I’ve never seen someone as dedicated to life and a sport at the same time. She’s really giving it all she’s got.”
While the ultimate goal is to qualify for the NCAA Championships, Nesbit could find her way there easily with the improvement she has seen this season. But Gallimore has bigger plans for Nesbit.
“I see us at the Olympic trials this summer,” Gallimore said. “She would have to jump a qualifying mark, and it would be a personal best for her, but it’s something she’s definitely capable of. I will be there every step of the way.”
Overall, things are more consistent, and Nesbit is a completely different athlete than the 2011 version. With the determination and spirit that Nesbit embodies in all of her activities, her senior year could end worthy of the WVU record books.