By Holly Kitten
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Terra Evans may have an Olympic medalist as a father, but it was Terra who had to plead with him to let her start running when she and her twin sister were only seven-years-old.
"My dad really thought we were too young, so he really didn't want us to run," Terra said. "We had to beg him to let us run at that age."
After getting the go-ahead from her father, Terra and her sister, Taylor, joined their cousins in an after-school youth track program.
Terra was placed in the sprints, and from that point on, developed as an athlete. Eventually, she was recruited to the Texas Tech track program.
Her event coach, Dion Miller, said Terra was a dark horse as a freshman in 2009.
However, she proved herself immediately.
During her first year, Terra was the only female freshman to qualify for the 100M at the NCAA Championships, where she placed fourth in the prelims. She also earned All-Big 12 in the 100M, 4x100M and 4x400M.
Miller was impressed.
"For her to be the only freshman to qualify for the NCAA championship - that spoke highly of her ability to maturate," he said. "We were very excited."
Terra's sophomore year was even better. She earned All-Big 12 and All-American honors in the 100M, 200M, and 4x100M relay. She also set the school record in the 100M with a time of 11.28 seconds.
That same year, Terra received more than just new titles and times, though. She also received new teammates - teammates which she happened to call family.
Her sister Taylor, also a sprinter, transferred from the LSU track program to Tech's. And Terra's cousin, Bryce Lamb, began his freshman year as a jumper for the Red Raiders.
The three of them went from children running in a youth track program to college teammates competing on the same team. Miller said the family dynamic between the three has been beneficial for the entire Tech program.
"It's a lot of fun to have Taylor and Terra and Bryce around," Miller said. "They grew up around track. They understand track and field. They respect their environment. They're positive teammates. Those are things you can't find every day."
Along with family teammates comes family support, and Terra said there is plenty of it. Whether they travel to the meets, or stay updated via live internet feeds, her parents, aunt, and grandparents are always watching.
"My entire family's always been supportive of all of us," Terra said.
While Taylor and Bryce began making their own substantial marks in the Tech track program, Miller said Terra continued to grow as a sprinter. During her junior year, Terra broke the school record in the 60M during her indoor season.
However, her streak of luck began to change as Terra battled injuries the remainder of the year.
Miller said although Terra struggled last year, she continued to work hard, especially academically. He was impressed with the way she balanced her athletic injury and her school work so well.
Terra, who has maintained a 3.6 GPA throughout her career, said it comes easy, because she enjoys going to school and learning new things.
"According to my family, I've always been a nerd," she said, laughing. "I've always worked hard at getting good grades. To me, to have anything below an ‘A' is horrible."
Now, as a senior, Terra's effort is beginning to show.
In November, she was honored with the STEM award at the Women of Color Conference in Dallas. The STEM program honors student athletes who have achieved well in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, while still maintaining a high status as an athlete.
Terra, an exercise and sports sciences major, said the conference was humbling because she had the opportunity to meet professionals with similar degrees.
Head coach Wes Kittley said he was proud of the honor Terra received.
"To get that award, you have to be very high academically, and have to have proven yourself more than just one semester," he said. "So, it makes me really proud, even down the road, she can have many great things, probably much greater than running in the future for her."
Terra said she has career goals of one day going into sports medicine or maybe even pharmaceutical practice. As for now, though, she has more immediate goals in mind.
Between striving for academic excellence, Terra said she has been training hard in order to make her last track season at Tech really count.
"It is my senior year, I want to make it my best year," she said. "I've been putting in a lot of work in the fall to make it my best year."
Improving individual times and relay times are among Terra's goals for the year, as well as earning some Big 12 and national titles.
Terra said the conference is a tough one, full of talented teams and individual athletes.
"Every person in every event has a major role in each team winning the championship," she said. "In our pursuit of our championship, everyone's been working hard, so I know if we continue that, we will have a good chance to win it."
Kittley said Terra displays her senior leadership role well by setting a serious tone at practice each day.
"What Terra does a good job with, is she's not a complainer and a griper," Kittley said. "She's not real vocal, but leads by example. That's what I appreciate so much."
Terra also does a good job of teaching the younger athletes, Miller said.
"Terra does a good job at what I call paying it forward," Miller said. "She'll get one of the freshmen or one of the underclassmen and get them under her wing, and give them encouraging words and advice as to what this whole thing is about."
Miller said Terra's caring attitude and strong work ethic is what makes her such an asset to the track program.
"She's a coach's dream," Miller said. "I really feel like if anybody had a chance to have a kid like Terra, they would have a good thing because she's been nothing but great for Texas Tech."
After a year of battling injuries, Kittley said he is anxious to see Terra on the track again. He knows Terra has endless potential, which he believes could lead her in her father's footsteps.
"I'd love for her to finish in the Big 12 very high," Kittley said, "And be able to go to the national championships again, and get a good time there where she could go and compete at the Olympic trials."
Becoming a professional track athlete is no new dream for Terra. After all, she has an Olympic medalist as a father. More importantly, though, has an entire family, who loves and supports her.
"They're rooting for me as well," she said, "So I know with all that, I can and I will be able to do it."