Johnathan Hancock Comes Into His Own
May 13, 2009
Story by Calhoun Hipp, Media Relations Student Assistant
Being the best is something that Johnathan Hancock has always known. Coming out of high school, Hancock was one of the top five sprinters in the country and had numerous scholarship offers from prestigious track and field colleges, and even some Division I football offers.
Hancock, a Charlotte, N.C., native, chose to come on board with Coach Curtis Frye and the South Carolina track and field team over Southeastern Conference foes Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. Several factors helped Hancock decide to side with the Gamecocks, including Coach Frye's history and reputation as a great coach, the level of competition in the SEC, and the proximity Columbia is from his family and friends.
However, the transition from high school to college was not as easy as Hancock would have hoped. When Hancock first arrived at South Carolina, he was not even a member of the travel squad. "I was very discouraged," said Hancock. "To go from basically being top five in the country to not even being top two on your team, it was very hard, and it was a learning process. It was just something that I had to grow and mature through."
Time management, hard work and self-discipline are what Hancock concentrated on during his free time. He knew that in order to be the best, he needed to work extra hard and focus on every aspect of his scholarship, including academics. He started focusing on why he was a Gamecock and wanted to prove to his family and friends back home that he would be a success in the classroom and on the track.
"First, I started with time management and going to study hall, and that helped out big time," said Hancock, an SEC honor roll member. "Then going to the weight room and doing extra exercises on my own helped me believe in what Coach Frye was saying and buy into the program. Once I did all that, everything else just fell into place."
Buying into the Gamecock program did not only place Hancock on the travel squad, but it also allowed him to excel in meets and achieve Outdoor All-American honors in the 4x100m relay during the 2008 NCAA Championships. Then, competing as an individual in the 100m dash, Hancock placed sixth at the 2009 SEC Indoor Championships before earning his bid to the 2009 NCAA Indoor Championships. Being on the stage with some of the top sprinters and top teams in the nation lifted Hancock's spirits because he knew that he belonged out there, and to coming out victorious was a great reward for his hard work and dedication.
As a freshman, Hancock looked up to Jonathan Fortenberry, a senior at the time for the Gamecocks and a former six-time Outdoor All-American. Whenever Hancock was feeling down about not being able to travel and doubting himself, he would turn to Fortenberry for support.
"He would take me in and talk to me," said Hancock of Fortenberry. "He was like the big brother that I never had. He has been the biggest inspiration for me on the track and has helped me become the sprinter that I am today."
Hancock still talks to Fortenberry before and after every meet to let Fortenberry know the results of each race and to let him know how much of an inspiration he has been to Hancock throughout the years.
Hancock, who now holds the South Carolina indoor record for the 55m dash after running it in 6.24 seconds earlier this year, came to the Gamecocks with the goal of leading the men's track and field team to a championship, whether it be a SEC, Eastern Regional, or the NCAA Championships. While he has not yet accomplished his goal, he still has the upcoming championship season and next year's outdoor season to bring a championship home to South Carolina.
First up for Hancock and the Gamecocks - the 2009 SEC Indoor Championships beginning Thursday at Gainesville, Fla.