By Aaron Allen, The Seattle Medium
One can be blessed with many talents but, talent does not make life easier or the decisions we make easier. Morgan Gill-Young is a talented track and field athlete at Seattle University, but her road to success has not been easy.
The record setting sophomore, who was a Junior Olympian and standout at Seattle’s Holy Names Academy, aspired to follow in her father’s footsteps and continue the family’s track and field legacy as a triple jumper. With success throughout her teens, both in high school and on club sports, Gill-Young’s potential was promising. After high school she went on to attend Washington State University and join the track team as freshmen.
Despite all of her accolades prior to college, Gill-Young struggled with transitioning to college.
“Things did not go as I thought they would,” says Gill-Young regarding her freshmen year of college.
“My coach at Washington State told me he didn’t think I was D1 material,” Gill-Young recalls. “[He said] if I did choose to stay, I probably wouldn’t travel but to keep working, but ‘you should probably start looking at a division two school.’”
The news may have deterred many athletes from pursuing their dreams, but Gill-Young used it as an opportunity to reflect and regroup.
“I decided I would take a break from track, see what I need to do at home and if I’m meant to come back to it then I will,” said Gill-Young. “But if [my track career] is supposed to be over I learned a lot from the sport and I walked away.”
After leaving WSU in the fall of 2018, Gill-Young came home and enrolled in Bellevue College to maintain her academic standards. She started playing competitive tennis, but the track and field kept calling her name. So, she began training again and researching the best schools that would fit her style.
Through all of her ups and downs, Gill-Young knew she could lean on her family for support.
“Watching her go through this I said to her ‘you are the captain of your own ship,’” said Gill-Young’s father, Kenneth Young. “And no one can determine your destination but you and you have to realize that.”
If graduating from high school and her freshmen year in college in 2018 was a learning experience, 2019 was about self-examination and soul searching as Gill-Young used that year to mentally decipher her path for the future.
“In 2019, I didn’t even know I was going to do track,” says Gill-Young. “I literally, when it came time for me to look for a school, looked at Seattle U’s roster and [said] with my marks, if I put my mind to it, I could come back and do this, so I did.”
Gill-Young’s talent and impact on the team was immediate. Toney Monroe, the jumping coach of the Seattle University track team, could see her talent and knew he had something special.
“She was a surprise to transfer to us,” says Monroe. “So, it definitely has been a great blessing and to see her blossom and do really well.”
Despite her time away from the sport and not having an indoor track season to help ramp up for the current season, Gill-Young has put together a spectacular season. With seven meets under her belt — including a record setting performance in Fresno, California, where she set personal records (PR) in the triple jump (39 feet, 10 inches) and the long jump (18 feet, 3 inches) – Gill-Young has emerged as a triple threat athlete for Seattle U., competing in the long jump, high jump and the triple jump. Her 39’ 10” triple jump effort crushed her previous PR by three feet, and set a school record in the process. In addition, she has made her way onto the school’s all-time top 10 marks in both the high jump and long jump.
“She did well in the long jump in Fresno California, she has taken on the high jump and added to her arsenal a three-foot PR to her triple jump,” says Monroe. “It is great to have a three-pronged athlete. Where is she going to score this week, is always the question?”
“There is a song we know by Rick James called Super Freak and she loves that song, so because she is our triple threat, we coined her the “Super Freak,” added Monroe.
Gill-Young through her ability to overcome adversity and her work ethic and support group has reinvigorated her love for track and field and it is paying off. But more importantly she’s having fun and once again enjoying the sport that she has loved for a very long time.
“It feels so good,” says Gill-Young. “It feels really rewarding after being away from track for two years and to come back and have a season like this with no indoor season is pretty awesome.”
Gill-Young will compete in the conference championships this week in Dallas, where she will participate in both the triple jump and the long jump.