HARTSVILLE, S.C. - Sports can teach us many life lessons. They teach us work ethic, dedication, courage, and how to deal with adversity. Coker's Darroneshia Lott is a prime example of what sports can teach us. The senior from Pensacola, Fla. dedicated herself to being the best runner she could be. Her strong work-ethic led her to All-American honors in the 2017 outdoor track & field 800-meter race, 2017 cross country championships, and the 2018 indoor track & field 800-meter race. Lott still had her sights set on a national championship heading into this year's NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships and was ready to accomplish one of her life-long goals.
Lott crushed the competition during the 800-meter final this past Saturday (May. 26), crossing the finish line with a time of 2:01.36. The time was a full second faster than the runner-up and was a new NCAA Division II record. Lott celebrated with her arms raised to the sky as she crossed the finish line. She did it, she was a national champion. However, just 20 minutes later, Lott learned of her disqualification from the race due to a lane violation. Lott ran the race of her life and achieved one of her life-long goals, until a small technicality flipped her world upside down.
Lott sat with her family and Coker head track & field coach, Tom Scott in their hotel lobby just a few hours after she received the news that she had been disqualified from the 800-meter final. Trying to move past what happened just a few hours ago, something unexpected happen. Scott walked up to Lott and explained to her that an athlete from another school wanted to talk to her. Lott accepted the invitation. Moments later, Janelle Perry from Ursuline College approached Lott and introduced herself. Perry just repeated as the 100-meter hurdles national champion and sparked up conversation with Lott.
That is when something incredible happened. Lott explains, "Janelle wanted to bless me with her national championship trophy because she believed I deserved something for my accomplishment and wanted me to be recognized as a national champion."
Lott was shocked from the random act of kindness from Perry. "Honestly, I would've never imagined a complete stranger offering me their championship trophy," said Lott. "I know how much that trophy means to her [Perry] and for her to just give that to me is absolutely incredible."
This is why we love sports, especially Division II athletics. Sports can inspire us to better ourselves in the classroom, in the sports arena, within our relationships, and as citizens in our communities. We love sports because it provides an avenue for complete strangers to form relationships through random acts of kindness. Finally, we love sports for producing young men and women of high character, such as Lott and Perry.
"Although it doesn't say 800-meter on the trophy, I have no choice but to cherish it more since it was Perry's," explained Lott. "You don't come across people like her [Perry] very often. I'm forever grateful for Janelle because she didn't have to do what she did."
When asked about the gesture, Perry explained, "This is more than a sport for a lot of people, including myself. I know that if I was in that position it would be hard for me to overcome. I wanted to give her something to hold onto, to remember how hard she worked to get where she is. She deserved much more than what I could give her, but it was my way of letting her know she inspired me and that she should keep moving forward."
Lott's fortunes continued to change for the better, as she received a call from a pro meet director to invite her to compete in the Music City Distance Carnival. This professional meet annually sees the greatest collection of middle distance runners to gather in the Southeastern United States. The 16th annual MCDC will take place the first weekend in June at Vanderbilt University on their brand new, super fast Mondo surface laid down in May 2017. As of now, Lott is tabbed to compete against runners from Ghana, Canada, and Great Britain in her heat.