Deborah John is a Trinidad and Tobago athlete on scholarship at North Dakota State University (NDSU) in the United States. John is a standout athlete at NDSU, and has also distinguished herself in the classroom. Last year, she was made a member of The National Society of Collegiate Scholars for her "commitment to the ideals of Scholarship, Leadership and Service".
In January this year, John was featured in the NDSU magazine, Bison Illustrated. Today, the Express reproduces that article.
The NDSU athletic department is peppered with teams that have a bright future. However, there aren't many with as bright a future, and as successful a past as the Bison women's track team.
NDSU has been dominant since joining the Summit League, and were recently unanimously chosen to win the 2012 Summit League indoor conference title by the Summit League coaches.
Much like the other successful teams at NDSU, the track team has benefited from a solid stream of terrific athletes that have come through Fargo. This year's team is no exception. The Bison will be led by All-League selections Brittany Page and Faith Kurchowski, and seven returning league champions—Antionette Goodman (200 metres), Toni Tollefson (high jump), Brittany Schanador (mile), Leslie Brost (pole vault), Amy Jo Thorne (3,000 and 5,000 metres) and Deborah John (60 metres, 60 metres hurdles).
Of all the returning talent that the Bison have Deborah John exhibits the recruiting reach that has helped the Bison to reach such tremendous heights. John hails from Arouca on the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago.
You might wonder to yourself "how did a runner from a Caribbean island end up in the snowy arctic climate of North Dakota?"
John says that she knew right away that NDSU was right for her.
"Ryun Godfrey (NDSU head coach) knew a coach from Minnesota that had been down and saw me run in Trinidad," John said. "I looked over the school and just had a really good feeling about it...the winters really aren't that bad!"
Fortunately for Bison fans John chose to brave the elements, because in her two years in the green and gold John has had tremendous success.
As a freshman in 2010 she set the second best time in NDSU history in the 60 metres after posting a time of 7.65 seconds in winning the Bill Bergen Invitational. She would go on to finish seventh in the 60 metres in the Summit League Championships.
Last year she took her game to another level. Adding the 60 metres hurdles to her events she was able to become one of the top competitors on the Bison team. She competed in the pentathlon at the holiday classic, finishing second in the 60 metres hurdles and the shot put.
She then took her game to another level at the Summit League Championships, winning every heat that she ran en route to winning league championships in both the 60 metres and 60 metres hurdles.
Then in the outdoor season, John won events in the 100 metres and 100 metres hurdles, finishing 19th in the NCAA west preliminary round.
John said that the addition of the hurdles to her events has helped her to become one of the top Bison runners.
"The hurdles are my favourite event," John said. "Last year was my first year doing it and when I started I was terrible...I watched the other runners and thought 'Wow! How do they do that?' I wanted to work hard to be able to have success...I love the challenge of the hurdles."
Going into the 2012 season John has set some high expectations for herself considering the success she had last season.
"I definitely want to better my times," John said. "I hope to make it back to the NCAA Regionals, and also to make some national teams back home."
It would not be the first time that John has represented her country on the national team. In 2009 John competed for Trinidad and Tobago in the 200 metres and 4x100 metres relay at the Pan American Junior Championships.
"I wasn't able to be at my best at the Pan Am games because I was injured," John said. "But it was still a great experience, and gave me great exposure."
John has some high goals for competing at the international level again.
"I would love to compete at the Pan Am Games," John said. "Also, the Olympic trials are a possibility...it might seem far-fetched, but if you work hard and believe in yourself anything is possible."
The Bison women's track team is poised to make another run at both indoor and outdoor Summit League conference titles. They are loaded with talent to be able to do so. One of the most talented and one to watch for is Deborah John.
SPORTS EDITOR'S NOTE: In February, John retained her 60 metres and 60 metres hurdles titles to help North Dakota State University to their fifth straight Summit League Indoor Track and Field Championship triumph. The Bison women will go after their fifth Summit League outdoor title on the trot at the 2012 edition of the Championships, from May 10-12, in North Dakota.