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February 27, 2019

Alabama Track and Field | The Day in the Life of Shelby McEwen

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Picture by Robert Sutton

Shelby McEwen of the University of Alabama track and field team leads the nation in the high jump. He is a junior from Abbeville, Mississippi. Shelby opened his season with a 7’4” clearance in the high jump, which lead him to his first win of the indoor season. He then went on to win his fourth consecutive meet and reached his personal best at the high jump. At the South Carolina Invite, he broke a new record. He gracefully cleared the bar and had the second-best jump in the world by clearing 7’7”! He is looking forward to defending his indoor title, reaching new heights, and breaking more records.

Shelby is a phenomenal athlete, but he didn’t just wake up that way; he works on his craft every day to get better, so he is prepared for each meet. As he prepares for SECs this week, he makes sure his body is physically ready for the big meet coming up. Shelby says, “Having a week to get prepared for SECs was good for my body. Going to get body treatments and a good rest was very beneficial.” It is imperative for every athlete, no matter what sport you play, to take care of your body by getting treatments, soaking your body, or whatever helps put your body at ease. As an athlete, your body is always taking a beating from all of your hard practices and games/meets, so make sure you give your body some time to rest to prevent yourself from burning out.

Now let’s jump into what Shelby does to get pumped up and ready for his meets. He starts off his day with some good music to get his mind focused on the task at hand. Next, he gets a good, nutritious breakfast to fuel his body for the day. “Normally my breakfast consists of an omelet, bacon, and potatoes. I also drink some orange juice and go from there”’ Shelby says. A consistent, routine breakfast is what most athletes stick to because consistency is key. After Shelby arrives to the meet, he says, “ I get a good flush out before I start my warmup.” If you are an athlete, you know that is one of the most important part of your pre-game/meet routine.” Next, it’s time to warm up and get your body and mind ready to compete. After doing a slight warmup, he goes to his event station, sets up his station, does some run-throughs, then does 2 or 3 jumps to make sure he is fully prepared before the competition starts. Shelby states, “When it’s time to compete, I’m in my zone and don’t like talking.” If you want to know how to be the #1 athlete in the nation for your sport follow his steps lol.

Shelby is the best high jumper in the nation, which means he has a plethora of accolades for all of his seasons. During the 2018 season, he was the SEC champion for outdoor high jump, First Team All-American for outdoor high jump, First Team All-SEC for outdoor high jump, First Team All-American for indoor high jump, SEC Champion for indoor high jump, First Team All-SEC for indoor high jump, and SEC Field Event Athlete of the Week. Shelby is on track become one of the best high jumpers to ever attend the University of Alabama and maybe even the best high jumper in the United States ever. Shelby works very hard to achieve his goals, and he would tell high school athletes looking to play any sport in college to reach for the stars and never give up. No matter how many times you fail, as long as you keep trying and keep working hard, you will reach your goal and be the best at what you do.

There is a common misconception of student-athletes by saying they don’t have fun, but Shelby can tell you that this is not the case. Athletes who are at Shelby’s level get to travel all over the world and compete in many different countries as well as states. Not only do they get to compete around the country, but Shelby has many accolades for his accomplishments. While being an athlete might be hard work and dedication he also has the opportunity to attend parties and events with his friends on his days off from athletics. Having fun and letting loose is very important for student-athletes because all work with no play can cause stress and maybe even depression, so get out there and have a good time when you have a chance.

As Shelby prepares for the SECs, he looks forward to defending his titles and and breaking records. Being the best at your sport can come with some downfalls. He is held to a higher standard than most; people are looking for him as a role model which in turn can put pressure on any athlete.  However, Shelby says, “ You just have to block out the noise and focus on what you are the best at doing,” this is excellent advice for athletes who are sliding from high school sports right into college sports. College sports is a completely different level than high school sports, only the best high school athletes have the opportunity to play at the college level, but if you really want it have to stay focused and keep your eyes on the prize.