On and off the field music is what drives Damarius Carroll, the senior track and field all-star at Florida A&M.
Carroll, who placed third in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championships in hurdles, said music has the same influence as sports in his life.
“I walk around campus all day with my iPod. To me the type of music you listen to tells you what type of person you are,” Carroll said.
Carroll listens to hip hop before a race. He said everything about it, from the lyrics to the hype beats, puts him in a competitive state of mind.
“After I listen to ‘No quitter’ by Lil Wayne, I don’t care about anything or anyone else, but winning the race,” Carroll said.
Calvin Sancho, assistant track and field coach at FAMU, said he has watched Carroll grow from a player who was sometimes nervous about approaching new risks to a competitive player; letting little to nothing affect him.
Winning seems to come easy for the 24-year-old, 6′, 160 lb hurdler. He placed on the top 25 list of hurdlers for the east region track and field conference for the last three years and ranked in the top 50 hurdlers in the Unites States, out of 300 contestants.
His winning streak began when he placed as a finalist in the United States Junior Olympics, while running with The Tallahassee Trailblazers, an Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) track and field team for youth ages seven to 18.
Carroll started playing sports in the third grade and attributes his athletic abilities to his genes.
“My father ran track and played football. My brother was a football and track star and then came me,” he said.
According to Carroll, who has a history in football as well, sports kept him off the streets and from getting into mischief.
“Sports became an outlet for me to separate myself from the wrong people, and I am happy for that because most of those same people are either dead or incarcerated,” Carroll said.
Rod Peterson, who coached Carroll when he was with the Trailblazers and has remained a close friend to him, said Carroll has stepped up and proved a lot of people wrong.
“He still has some personal goals he wants to reach. He wants to break the 13 second threshold, and is getting closer to that mark,” Peterson said. “He is very competitive, and when it comes to track and his personal life he doesn’t always know how to separate the two,” he said.
Carroll believes a significant part of his growth has come under the tutelage of his new coach, Wayne Angel.
“Being a hurdler, he focused on the little things that have made my times drop significantly,” Carroll said. “I noticed even in my first meet I entered it with a severe injury, but my times still dropped dramatically.”
Carroll admits that he talks a lot of trash on the track, and some may even say he is loud, obnoxious and an instigator. However, he said off the field, family and friends would describe him as sweet, caring and quiet.
“You have to have two mind sets. When playing sports you can be cocky, but if you’re that way in your daily life people will hate you,” Carroll said. “On the contrary, if you go into an athletic environment with a quiet and caring persona, people will run all over you.”
Carroll said some people have a misconception about athletes and often think they just get by in school.
“My love for track makes me want to push harder in school because if I don’t make the grades, I can’t participate in the sport,” Carroll said.
Carroll said while he enjoys sports, waking up at 5 a.m. for practice, going to class afterward, followed by practice, study hall and homework until 2 a.m. sometimes becomes tiresome.