2020 has been full of low points, but one stands out in particular for long jumper and Olympic hopeful Corey Crawford.
It happened in March.
Crawford, a 2016 graduate of Rutgers University, had been training at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California for more than three years. In the best shape of his life, and physically and mentally prepared to leave it all on the table at the Olympic trials, he was cautiously optimistic about his chances of representing the United State in the Summer 2020 Games in Tokyo.
COVID-19 arrived in California in late January. A little over a month later, with the virus spreading quickly, California Governor Newsom took drastic measures to slow it down—cancelling events, prohibiting large gatherings, and closing schools, including the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista. Crawford and the other 100 athletes had to leave immediately, with no Plan B in place.
He struggled for months to find an alternative plan to train, but most options were locked down indefinitely. Unwilling to let his Olympic dream evaporate completely, he followed a lead from another long jumper that led him to SPIRE. A journalism major in college, Crawford accepted a job in SPIRE’s marketing office that would allow him to continue training with track and field legend Charlie Powell. He arrived on campus in September, and now says things couldn’t be better.
“As fast as the coronavirus took everything away, SPIRE gave it back,” says Crawford. “I couldn’t imagine having a better situation. I’ve had the opportunity to compete in indoor track and field complexes all over the country, and SPIRE’s is the best I’ve seen.”
Crawford says SPIRE has given him the most important thing any athlete needs: stability. “I am able to have a great routine here,” he says. “I’m able to continue training in the same facility, day after day, and I have reliable access to the workout room and conditioning equipment—and the staff is great.”
While the environment SPIRE is giving Crawford is helping his preparation for Tokyo stay on track, the 4-time All American also brings a lot of talent to the table. The New Jersey high school state champion competed in three conferences during his time at Rutgers University. After Rutgers left the Big East, its athletes briefly competed in the AAC before moving to the Big 10. During Crawford’s senior year, he won a Big 10 championship—ironically at a competition hosted by SPIRE.
“I will always be so grateful to SPIRE for giving me this opportunity when so many other athletes are struggling to find consistency and support,” he said. “SPIRE has helped me turn a negative into a positive—and I think learning how to do that is as important as anything else a person could ever learn in life.”