Track Star Teacher
Former Olympic Medalist’s Message: ‘Get Behind Your Dreams’
by Laura Bloemker
Growing up in rural Fairfield, Texas, Nanceen (Perry) Hoskins could often
be seen running down a country road in bare feet, determined not to let her
male cousins run faster than she did. Or chasing young calves (and having to
outrun their fretful mothers). Or climbing a tree.
The former University of Texas and Olympic sprinter is proud of being a
country girl who worked hard and used her talent and desire to achieve some
amazing athletic goals. Her students often don’t know it, but she is one of the
most decorated sprinters in US history.
A Calm, Cool Competitor
Nanceen’s athletic success began at Fairfield High School, where she was a
four-year state champion in the 100- and 200-meter sprints. She also excelled at
the triple jump and the long jump, but she preferred running.
Her calm and cool demeanor was noteworthy for a high school athlete,
according to former UT Women’s Track Coach Bev Kearney. Nanceen would sit
behind the start line, reading a book and eating a candy bar before races. It turns
out she had unwittingly discovered a competitive secret while outracing her
male cousins. “What I try to tell kids is compete against people of higher caliber.
It helps because you’re no longer afraid—so you can really compete,” she said.
Her success continued at UT, where, as a sophomore, she won the 200
meters at the 1997 NCAA Indoor Championships. She also ran the second leg
of the 1998 and 1999 4x100-meter relay teams that won the NCAA Outdoor
Championship. She helped propel the Longhorns to four straight NCAA team
titles in 1998 and 1999 (indoor and outdoor).
More than anything, she excelled at blowing out of the starting blocks for
a lightning-fast start. “I didn’t have any form,” she said when she was inducted
into the Longhorn Hall of Honor in 2009. “I just got out there and turned left.”
Although she was an individual star, Nanceen was also the consummate
teammate, as happy to practice as she was to compete. She didn’t like to lose,
but more important to her was the determination to never let a teammate down.
Champion sprinter Nanceen Hoskins, shown
here during her UT days, now imparts the
will to succeed to her students at Fairfield