Jan. 17, 2008
Senior Norris Frederick is embarking on his final indoor season at Washington this winter. A five-time All-American, Frederick placed third in the long jump at the 2007 NCAA Outdoor Championships. The first Husky All-American in the long-jump in more than 30 years, Frederick is one of the leaders of the 2nd-ranked UW men's track and field team.
GoHuskies.com caught up with Norris this week to discuss his goals for the upcoming season, the missed opportunity at last year's NCAA's, and what he expects at this Saturday's UW Indoor Preview:
GoHuskies.com: What do you want to accomplish before you graduate this year?
Norris Frederick: I want to rack up some national championships, some Pac-10 championships and indoor championships as well. I want my team to do well. I know my coach expects a lot of out of me this year so I'm going to do my best to provide.
GH: You finished last year disappointed after finishing third at NCAA's. Are you more motivated this year?
NF: The long jump is always going to be an open arena for anybody. In outdoor there are so many things you have to think about, like the weather. Your approach, the winds and other weather elements are important. But there is really no excuse for me not winning that. I think about that everyday and that's all the motivation I really need.
GH: You call yourself an `adrenaline jumper.' How important is having an active crowd to your success?
NF: It's huge. I can't explain it. It is the hardest thing to do to compete when there is no one there or the crowd is just sitting there watching. It's dead and it's not fun. An excited crowd could get me to jump world record distances. At NCAA's, especially if you go in there as a low seed, no one really cares who you are. If I even just have a few people clapping and I can feel it in my head then it's a different story. But at the NCAA meet everyone is really into the sprints so you have to make some noise where we are for them to respect you.
GH: In high school the higher seeds almost always win. How is it different in college?
NF: At this level it is anyone's game on any given day in any event. I came in ranked in the top-2 at the NCAA meet a year ago and finished third. I lost to a guy that I outjumped by more than a foot at Regionals. I still kick myself for that. I try not to pay attention to who I'm competing against or who is better than me. I'm here to win.
GH: What are your goals for the high jump this spring?
NF: Honestly I just do it to score points. It's a fun event and it looks cool, but I know that's not where my future is. If my coach keeps asking me to do it, then I'll do it.
GH: Do you see Olympic Trials in your future?
NF: Yes I do. I've made the qualifying mark already so I just have to place in the top-3 in Eugene this summer and that should be fine. It's not something I've really aspired to, but it will be fun.
GH: What is your leadership role on this team?
NF: My coach sat me down as an 18-year old kid and told me, `I want you to change the face of Washington Track and Field.' Ever since then I've had a chip on my shoulder like this is my team. I need to get these guys ready for the team and motivate these guys. When it comes to people slacking I feel like it is my responsibility. Rarely do you ever hear anyone in trouble on the track and field team. I just try to remind these guys that we can win [the National Championship] this year. We won't let one mistake dictate anything, especially for 120 people.
GH: Is there more pressure on the team coming with a No. 2 preseason ranking?
NF: Come get me man. It's cool to look at, but a lot of people play into that hype. You walk into an arena with a target on your back, how are you going to respond to it? It's not about what a magazine says, but about what we can bring to the table.
GH: What is your off-season training regimen like?
NF: I think I've had two weeks off since this time last year. I'm lifting everyday and practicing. Usually during outdoor I train with my high school as well as here. My coach always told me that, `championships are made when no one else is around.' So I'm lifting, doing plyometrics, running stadium stairs and hill. I just do it all when no one is watching.
GH: When you are working so hard by yourself, with no one to push you, what motivates you?
NF: I just think about the national championship and that guy from Cal State Northridge that walked away my stuff last year. That's enough motivation right there. I can't take another loss under my belt this year.
GH: What are you expecting in the upcoming indoor meet on Saturday?
NF: I plan to put on a show, put a lot of smiles on people's faces and also have fun doing it. I don't know who's coming, nor do I really care. Hopefully by this time next week I'll be leading the country.