Getting to Know Kasaun James
This week I had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with USC Senior Track and Field runner Kasaun James. He is a transfer from Florida State. We talked about why he transferred to USC, his aspirations for this upcoming season, the time he met Taraji P. Henson in L.A, and so much more. In May 2021, he started the season strong finishing first (6.57) in the 60 M Gamecock Opener. Kasaun James also finished first in the 200 M (20.72) and second in the 100 M (10.17) at the ACC Outdoor championships.
Q: What led you to transfer to USC?
KJ: Knowing that I had one more year left to achieve something great within myself and with a university, I felt that USC would be the perfect school for me. USC can take me to the next level and help me expand on what I already know about sprinting. Everything here is by the book, so I knew it was going to be challenging academically and athletically. I knew USC was going to be strict and demanding, but I wanted a challenge with my last year. Also, the track and field program here is historical. USC's history of sprinters such as Andre De Grasse, Michael Norman, Rai Benjamin and TeeTee Terry. Everyone has done great things here. It made me think that there was going to be a standard that I would have to live up to which I'm ready for. So, I feel like that's the reason that I wanted to transfer to USC. The rich tradition that we have here is unreal.
Q: As a transfer, has the team helped you adjust to USC?
KJ: Definitely. I feel like everyone is so nice and has been really welcoming since day one. All my teammates are an example of what USC is all about. So they've helped me adjust by just being themselves and working hard at practice.
Q: What did you think of USC from afar?
KJ: I felt like USC was some foreign place that everyone talks about. Because it's so far, especially from the south, you hear about USC as this place… this paradise that people try to get to. I thought it was this cool university that is challenging academically and athletically while also being uniquely centered in L.A. Now being here, my perception hasn't really changed. It's still challenging academically and athletically but I do enjoy it here because that's exactly what I thought and wanted USC to be. There is a lot that is required from you like having regular meetings with coaches and more difficult practices. Everything is in high demand but there are a lot of benefits you get. There's a lot of resources that make me feel supported.
Q: What are some of your goals for this upcoming track and field season?
KJ: My goal is to give it my all. Every season I feel like there's always something I could've done better. This year, my ultimate goal is to go all-in and say I left nothing out there that I could've done better. By getting the best treatment, hydrating, giving it my all at practice, I feel like I can accomplish my goal.
Q: What are some of your favorite hobbies?
KJ: In LA, there's so much stuff to do, but I rest and recover a lot. I watch a lot of Netflix. When I do go out, I like to go to taco trucks. I love to try different taco trucks. My favorite is Savage Tacos. Wherever they are I try to go. I also like to go to different concerts and get out in the music scene. I feel like there is so much art in this city and I try to get acquainted with people who are more artistically inclined rather than just athletes.
Q: What is the coolest thing you have done in LA?
KJ: Probably going to Taco Tuesday. Steve Mackey, a famous vocal coach, hosts these private singing parties. It's like those Tiny Desk concerts. So, I was there the other night, and I heard some amazing artists perform. It's just so cool to see local and international talent in one area. Just the other day I saw Brandy's daughter, Sy'Rai, sing her songs. Now, it's all over the internet so it's cool to say I got to see her in person. There are also tacos. So, it combines my two favorite things. Oh, I also met Taraji P. Henson, which was crazy.
Q: What, that's crazy! How did you meet Taraji P. Henson?
KJ: So, Steve is a vocal coach and she's doing the new live Annie on Broadway. He invited me to see this venue. So, I knock on the door and then Taraji opens the door and says, "Hey baby!" and gives me a big hug. I was starstruck. Steve is giving her vocal lessons and I'm just on the sidelines trying to record the session on my phone because I felt like this is something I will probably never experience again. But yeah, that was fun. I was completely starstruck.
Q: Wow, you've gone to some cool stuff while being in L.A. What are some other things on your L.A bucket list?
KJ: I definitely want to meet actors. Track is one side of me, but I'm also really interested in the entertainment industry. I like to write music. I feel like meeting Issa Rae would be amazing. Oh, I also forgot to mention that I went to Will Smith's book signing tour. It was at the Dolby theatre. I went last week, and I got his book, and I can't wait to start reading it. So, I've also seen Will Smith which is cool. It's funny because my coach talked to me and said that she's been seeing me out a lot. But, because I'm doing well in practice, she encourages me to explore L. A to make sure I have a balance.
Q: What are you looking forward to the most about the track and field season?
KJ: Just having fun and it being my last season. Knowing that I'm training hard and doing the things I can do to stay healthy and perform my best, I'm confident in this season. So, I'm just excited to be competing for USC with this great team and amazing coaches. I'm just happy to be here.
Q: What is the go-to song that gets you pumped and ready to race?
KJ: Oh, there are too many songs! I have a playlist that I always listen to. An artist that gets me hyped every time I'm about to race though is probably Kanye West.
Q: Last question, do you have any sports heroes or people who inspire you?
KJ: People that inspire me...definitely my mom. My mom is one of my biggest motivators. If I think about my mom, I know I'm going to kill the workout. One of my favorite runners is Frankie Fredericks. A lot of people don't talk about him enough, but that man is amazing. I look at his videos a lot.