We catch up with our first cover athlete from June 2010, plus name the Top 25 teams and athletes from our first 100 issues
By CHACE BRYSON | Editor
She ran fast, and she had a great smile. But mostly, Chizoba Okodogbe ran fast.
That fact especially made her appealing to a start-up high school sports magazine debuting its first issue the week after the CIF State Track and Field Championships. As SportStars began to look for stories for its first issue, it decided to take a gamble on the potential of a 400-meter sprinter for Deer Valley High in Antioch. The first generation Nigerian-American held the fastest time in the state in the event through early May of 2010. She would be a fun story to tell — especially if she were a state champion.
She finished second. And it made for an even better story — because the spirit and passion of Okodogbe was far more impressive than what she did on the oval.
At the time, even Okodogbe might’ve been wondering how she ended up as the face on the front of the inaugural SportStars issue. It was purely a case of the right athlete and right time.
“I felt honored,” Okodogbe said in a phone interview from Eugene, Oregon. “That was crazy to me. I feel honored even now. I just felt blessed, and it was so cool.”
Okodogbe graduated from Oregon in December following a distinguished four-year career. She was a 12-time All-American, and part of relay teams which won two Pac-12 and two NCAA National Championships. Individually in the 400 meters, she had a second- and third-place finish at the Pac-12 Championships. And in the brief time she wasn’t racing or training, she double-majored in psychology and sociology.
“That’s so hard to say,” she said. “When track was over last season, I was ready to be done. I was tired of track. But I’m getting that itch again, so I can’t really say that book is completely closed.”
She plans to return to the Bay Area and to stay involved with track while she works through grad school. But what exactly that means, she isn’t certain. It could mean reaching out to her old high school coach, Brad Stephens at Deer Valley.
Or it could mean a re-commitment to training and one last push at her Olympic dream, one which would likely mean running for the Nigerian National Team. “I definitely think I could go after it,” she said. “But because I waited so long, it would be that much harder.”
If that door is closed, however, she sounded legitimately cheery at the idea of helping younger sprinters. She definitely knows what her first piece of advice would be.
“Looking back when I was in high school, I wanted to go to the Olympics and it was all about track. I had such a narrow focus,” she said. “(I’d tell today’s athletes) sports aren’t a given and things may not pan out the way you want to them to. Focus on school and know that you can always fall back on your degree.”
MORE 100 ISSUES CELEBRATION CONTENT
THE TOP 25 ATHLETES OF THE FIRST 100 ISSUES
THE TOP 25 TEAMS OF THE FIRST 100 ISSUES
SportStars Magazine: High School Sports Articles Online SportStars is your go-to source for the very best high school sports articles in California. Player and team profiles, game coverage, health and fitness tips and the largest Camps, Clinics & Combine resource for athletes. We're the story behind the stats.