In the Pit with Norris Frederick

Feb. 2, 2005

All eyes were on freshman Norris Frederick at the season-opening UW Indoor Preview, and the Seattle native did not disappoint. Frederick swept high jump and long jump titles at the meet, his winning mark of 25-4 1/2 a six-inch personal best and the No. 2 jump in the world this year by an under-20 jumper. Last Saturday, Frederick proved it wasn't a fluke with thee more jumps over 25 feet, the last a 25-foot 6-1/4 inch monster that was the world's 13th-best at the time, and ranks second among collegiate jumpers this year. Success for Frederick is certainly to be expected -- the freshman led all U.S. prep high jumpers in 2004 with a best of 7-1, and was the United States' fourth-ranked prep long jumper at 24-10 1/2. reporter Veronica White caught up with Frederick this week to discuss the freshman's impressive opening month. weeks ago, you cleared 25 feet, 4 1/2 inches in your collegiate debut at Dempsey Indoor. What was that like?
Norris Frederick: 'It was fun. I just wish I could have done better in the high jump. The long jump went pretty well. I like the facility and I like jumping in front of my hometown.'

GH:When you compete in Seattle, do you have friends and family that come and cheer you on?
Frederick: 'For the most part. A couple friends from high school come and watch me and some people from my dorm come out. I don't think that track is promoted well enough around campus for people to come out and see, but I would like that. I know that it would boost the adrenaline on the team.'

GH:What are the main differences between college and high school track?
Frederick: 'The competition level. It's clear to me that I can't just come and jump 6-8 and 6-10 and win the track meet, like I could in high school. People aren't intimidated by a name now, and in high school, I know that a lot of people feared my name. It's a totally different ball game; it's big-time now.'

GH:Are you intimidated by a name in college?
Frederick: 'Oh no. I like a challenge. It was good for me to lose last week in the high jump; it lets me know that I need to keep working hard and not give up.'

GH:So far have you had any challenges?
Frederick: 'I have in the high jump. In the long jump I have had mental challenges because I was nervous at the first meet for the long jump. I feel that I am a more confident high-jumper than I am a long-jumper. But I just go out there and clear my mind and do it.'

GH:What are your goals for this season?
Frederick: 'Like everyone else, I want to go to the NCAAs indoor and outdoor, and I would like to win it. I would like to go to Pac-10s and Regionals ... just do everything. I would like to do anything I can to help myself, and the team as well.'

GH:What is it like competing in front of a big crowd?
Frederick: 'It doesn't bother me at all. It gets me more fired up. I am an adrenaline jumper. In practice I have never gone higher than 6-8. It's pure adrenaline (at meets).'

GH:How was last weekend's UW Indoor Invite in terms of a big-time college meet?
Frederick: 'It was different, but I think I can compete with these guys. As a freshman, I think I am ready for whatever coach wants to put in. I won't back down. I don't take losing very well so I think that is part of me keeping my head on straight.'

GH:So it sounds like you have pretty high expectations for yourself?
Frederick: 'I do, yeah. I don't take losing well at all. I would consider myself a perfectionist. But at the same time I don't like winning as much as people may think. It hurts more to lose than it feels good to win, if that makes sense.'

GH:Last year you competed at the World Junior Championships in Italy. What was that like?
Frederick: 'I was injured for the entire meet. I think if I were healthy I would have made a bigger impact than I did. I jumped, but I didn't do as well as I wanted to and my coach pulled me out after a couple jumps because I could barely run. But I am going to try and make it again this year and redeem myself.'

GH:At Roosevelt High School in Seattle, you also played basketball. Are there any basketball skills that carry over to track and field?
Frederick: 'Yeah, I think so. I have been trying to ask coach if we can do some stuff in the gym. I am a natural jumper; I need to jump to keep myself in shape. I think it helped a lot last year because I came out in the middle of basketball season and went 7-foot without any practice, so I think it does help a lot. The constant running is helpful.'

GH:I heard that you jumped with the same pair of shoes all through high school, and now you have different pairs for different events. Would you prefer to go back to having just one pair?
Frederick: 'Yeah, I think I would. Those shoes that I had -- I was used to them, I was attached, I guess. I duct-taped them towards the end because they started to fall apart, and they still worked until I got to Italy and then everything just went downhill. The biggest meet of my life just had to be ruined by a pair of shoes. I had to borrow a guy from Finland's shoes to jump, but that affected me mentally.'

GH: Well, if the last few weeks are any indication, you're doing just fine with the new shoes. That's all I have, Norris. Thanks for your time, and good luck!
Frederick: 'No problem. Thank you.'

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