Tynita Butts was nicknamed "Track Star," "The Olympian" and "Freak of Nature" during her time as a high school athlete. Those who watched the 2009 T.C. Williams graduate knew her talents in the long jump and high jump could take her a long way.
While her ultimate goal is to one day compete in the Olympics, Butts recently received some recognition while working to get there. Butts, a freshman at East Carolina University, earned All-America honors on June 9 at the NCAA Division I outdoor track and field championships in Eugene, Ore. Butts finished in a three-way tie for seventh place in the high jump, clearing 5 feet, 9 inches. The top eight finishers in each event receive All-America honors.
Butts, who also finished 16th in the long jump, is the program’s first female All-American in 11 years.
Butts said she had her doubts about finishing high enough to earn All-America in the high jump, but a change in weather helped her out.
"I was excited," Butts said in a recent phone interview. "Did I know I was going to get it? I had a feeling I was going to do well but I didn’t expect to get All-America in the high jump. … Once it started raining I knew I was going to get it. When it rains the girls don’t do well. But for me, the rain doesn’t do anything to me. It’s a psychological thing.
"I represented ECU and back home in Virginia and Georgia."
Butts also earned Conference USA Freshman of the Meet during the indoor and outdoor seasons. Butts’ freshman season was a promising start to her college career, but she has her sights set on something bigger: the Olympics.
"I really, really want to go," she said. "It’s always been my dream since I figured out I could do it."
T.C. Williams track and field coach Patrick Deville believes Butts can do it.
"That’s outstanding," Deville said of Butts’ All-America honors. "She’s had such a great season. … She’s an outstanding person who has worked really, really hard to get where she is. … I would not be surprised if she was in London or Rio [de Janeiro] for the Olympics at some point."
— Jon Roetman