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Genesia Eddins, Queen of the Beacons’ Track and Field


Management, 1992

Genesia Eddins visited the University of Massachusetts Boston just before the old track disappeared under piles of snow, and then dirt from the construction.
“It was track that kept me here,” she says. “The woman’s track team was phenomenal. I can say that now with the biggest smile. I still get a charge out of holding the record for something like 25 years in certain events. I’m highly competitive, so a couple of weeks ago, Charlie Titus, the Vice Chancellor [of Athletics], was telling me, ‘We have this really awesome girl. Her name is Hillary, and she’s really doing well.’ And I said, ‘Ooo I’m so thrilled. I’m so happy,’ because it’s going to put the university back on the map for track and field. He said, ‘Yeah she’s coming to get your records.’ In my mind I was thinking, ‘Come and get it.’” 
Eddins still holds records in the women’s 800, 400 and 200 meter dash, and her team holds the 4 by 400 relay record. 
“At UMass, as a student athlete, track was certainly the anchor that held me here. We had such good camaraderie amongst the women on the team. When we would go to these meets, even though we were division three, division one and division two schools knew we were a force to be reckoned with.” 
With the support of each other, in competitions they often prevailed. 
“We were about 18 deep, always. Many of us had competed together prior to coming to UMass on a club team, although we all attended different high schools, so there was already that sense of camaraderie. Don’t get me wrong. We were not always in love with each other. We had our moments. But when it came time to compete we were there.”
Fingers brushing a desk in the lobby of the Clarke Athletic Center, Eddins calls her team a merry band of fierce competitors. 
“It was a great experience. There is nothing I would change about it. We were so loud. I remember other teams telling us, ‘You guys are great. We don’t know if you’re great because you’re so loud or so talented.’”
Eddies ran her first track meet in the third grade. By the time she was in the 5th grade she was faster than any 7th grade boy. Then in junior high, she joined a track team, the Cooper Striders. 
“I grew up in the South End, so I’m a native Bostonian. I attended West Roxbury High School. I had some very different options in terms of where I went to school.” 
After six months on her first track team she went to the junior Olympics in Lincoln Nebraska and placed third in the girl’s 400. The following year she won the 400, and by the time she graduated from high school she was ranked number one in the quarter-miler in the US.
At the end of that triumphant senior year of high school, she contracted a respiratory infection that left her bed ridden for a number of months, so UMass became the best choice for her. It was close to home, and her former high school coach, Sherman Hart, had just taken the job as head woman’s coach at UMass Boston, so it was a natural transition. 
“Even though I was dealing with health challenges, at least I had the security of knowing that I was not going to take on the transition of going out of state to another university. Medically, I could not have done it. It was the best choice at the time.” 
She sat out most of the first season, cheering on her teammates, red shirted because of the illness. Late in the spring of that freshman year, she ran in a few meets to find her feet, just to remind everyone she could still run.
“Physically my body was depleted. I had gone from my heaviest weight ever, 115, to 86 pounds in three weeks. I was hurting.”
Brian Fitzgerald’s sports medicine team helped speed her to a full recovery.
“Brian and his team were phenomenal. They helped me put myself physically back together, and in terms of the support that they provided on a daily basis, they were so proactive.”
They were giving massages and icings, and always on alert with measures to heal and prevent injury.
“They went above and beyond, and because of their proactive efforts we had very minimal injuries, which allowed us to maintain that level of consistency, it allowed us to continue training at that high level, and most importantly to continue winning.” 
The women’s track and field team of the late 80s blew competition out of the water, winning four consecutive NCAA titles and producing thirteen All-Americans. Eddins alone earned All-American status in 15 events, and won eight NCAA individual championships. 
“The wins? Are they all a blur?” Eddies says, gazing up toward the steel rafters. “Nothing in particular sticks out. It always felt good. Well, you know what, there is one win—our second national team win—because the first time we won the buzz was, ‘Oh, they’re a fluke.’ But by our second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh win, we weren’t a fluke. We were the real deal.” 
After winning the NCAA Division three championship three years in a row, 1985, 86, 87,  at nationals in Wisconsin in 1988, UMass Boston got second as a team to Christopher Newport Virginia.
“We won practically every running event. Where we lost points was in the field events. There were 15 or so women who went, and we cried all the way from Wisconsin on that flight back to Boston. The poor flight attendants didn’t know what to do. It was so disheartening. I can laugh about it now, but we were crushed. Crushed. But it was good competition. We just weren’t accustomed to losing.” 
After graduating from UMass Boston, Eddins went on to run for Nike, Adidas and Reebok.

About the Contributor
Caleb Nelson served as the following positions for The Mass Media the following years: Editor-in-Chief: Fall 2010; 2010-2011; Fall 2011 News Editor: Spring 2009; 2009-2010