By Lindsay McNeish
I had the chance to sit down recently with Aaliyah Pete, an incredibly humble athlete and Communication Studies major. Pete’s had a successful track career during her time at CSU. Her main event is shotput, but also throws discus and indoor weight. In fact, Pete is one of the most winningest female athletes in the Mountain West Conference.
“Shot put is my thing, it’s what brought me here. I’ve won six conference titles from CSU in the shot and been to nationals three times,” said Pete.
Pete started track in seventh grade when her Spanish teacher suggested she try it. She started out running like every kid does, but as soon as she tried shotput it was an instant fit. “I was super super good right away and I’ve stuck with it ever since,” said Pete.
The path Pete took to CSU had several moving parts. Originally from Omaha, Nebraska, Pete spent summers in high school working at a summer camp in Estes Park, Colorado which influenced her journey to CSU. Pete met with the “throws” coach during one of those summers and kept in contact just in case.
“Senior year of high school, I blew up,” said Pete. “I had the season of my life and ended up getting an offer here.” She made sure to note the cow-to-people ratio in Nebraska is 4:1; moving to Fort Collins was a welcome change.
One of Pete’s most memorable experiences during her time as a student athlete was when she competed in the Junior World Championship for Team USA her freshman year in Eugene, Oregon. She got to meet and be mentored by olympic athletes.
Off the track, Pete’s time as a Communication Studies major, has been influenced greatly by the Communication Studies professors. “I wouldn’t say they’ve changed me as a person, but they’ve definitely helped me with the way I think and the way I move through the world,” said Pete.
One of Pete’s favorite classes has been nonverbal communication. “That was a class where everyday we’d learn something and then I’d notice it as soon as we’d leave. It was really easy to apply.”
“It’s a hard balance between track and school, because we travel a lot and a lot is demanded of us every day,” said Pete. “You’re tired and don’t have as much time to be invested in school as you would want to.”
Pete emphasized the importance of making connections while still in school. “You come across some really awesome professors and students. Establish roots within the department because that’s going to pay off down the road,” said Pete. She knows this is true, starting with the CSU track coach who helped her come to CSU in the first place.
In addition to school and track, Pete works at Council Tree Covenant Church as an early childhood teacher for toddlers and preschoolers. She got this job from a connection that she made while working at the summer camp back in high school.
Pete’s plans for after graduation are still up in the air. “I would still like to work with kids to some extent, like teens. My ideal job out of college would be a teen life coordinator at a boys and girls club or something to keep them out of trouble and to keep them active. The teen years are hard and it’s good to have someone around who understands,” said Pete.
Pete graduates from CSU in May. The rest of her track season will determine what she does next. Best of luck, Aaliyah!