Sept. 14, 2013
By Matt Winkeljohn
As the first student-athlete in ACC history to win the 100 meters, 200 meters and 100 hurdles in the conference meet, Andria King in 1999 put the signature touch on a Georgia Tech career that will soon land her in the school’s athletic Hall of Fame.
There was a nearly manic method behind King’s success; her drive was her real signature. Tech jumps/hurdles coach Nat Page considers King one of the most focused student-athletes with whom he’s worked, and he has proof beyond the track.
In the unlikely event that anyone in the Tech program did not know King’s way, it became crystal clear after her career (1996-’99) when she became a Tech assistant.
“We would always say to her that she was high maintenance. When she became a staff member, we would go out to lunch, and let’s say we’d go to Subway. I’ll have a Tuna sub, with lettuce, mayo and pickle, and I’m done,” Page recalled. “She walks up to order and says, ‘Do you have veal, or organic cucumber?’ I’m . . . ‘They don’t serve that here.’
“She wants something as organic as possible, and I’m like, ‘They don’t serve that here.’ You want to be in front of her . . . She’s going to want exactly what she wants. If you’re behind her in line waiting to eat, you’re going to starve.”
Few finished in front of King.
She was a five-time All-American in three hurdles events, a seven-time ACC champion in six events, a nine-time All-ACC performer (indoors and outdoors combined), the ACC Most Valuable Performer in the ’98 and ’99 outdoor meets and the ’99 indoors.
Her name went in the school record book in the 60-meter dash (7.26 seconds), the 55-meter hurdles (7.47), the 100 meters (11.26), the 200 meters (22.90) and the 100-meter hurdles (12.86). She won ACC titles in all those events and as a member of the 4×400-meter relay.
And yet, her Tech career began in modest fashion after she’d won a couple state high school titles at the Marist School.
“I wasn’t heavily recruited . . . I wasn’t a powerhouse. It was really comfortable to stay close to home, and academics were the biggest draw to Tech,” King says. “The coach who recruited me left after my freshman year. Coach Page came my redshirt sophomore year, and it was, hands down, the best thing that ever happened in my track career.”
Page saw quickly that he had work to do after head coach Alan Drosky tasked him with looking into King’s potential as a heptathlete.
“I checked her high jump to see if she had any skills. She’d run fairly decent in the hurdles, 14.20, not fast. I brought her over to the long jump, and I looked at her and said, ‘You jump like an eighth grader,’ ” Page recalled.
“I looked at her and then ran her, and reported back to coach Drosky, ‘That child can’t do anything in the multis, but she’s got a big heart and a fast trail leg.’ OK, then, we’ll leave her [in hurdles]. If she’s got that fast of a trail leg and I can straighten out the rest of this, then we’ll have a good hurdler.”
The business about a fast trail leg is simple. When a hurdler is in flight, she/he cannot resume running until the last part of her/his body over the hurdle is back on the ground.
So King had that going for her, and Page set about working on everything else.
It paid off, and quickly.
“She trained like a champion, like she was always good. She dropped basically one second, to 13.3, our first year together and we made nationals,” Page said. “It took the first year, but you could see it happening month after month.
“She ended up being a world-class hurdler, and she trained like that when she wasn’t. Her mindset and her output and how she attacked workouts . . . there was no quit in her, and there was no slacking going on, ever. As a senior, she . . . could run 8-flat in the [60-meter] hurdles – an American indoor collegiate record at nationals.”
King went on to earn All-America honors three times in the 100 hurdles, once in the indoor 55 hurdles and once in the indoor 60 hurdles. She won the 100-meter hurdles at the 1999 World University Games, too, before running professionally for a couple years.
Page to this day remains amazed by King’s work ethic, her intensity and her ability to narrow her focus. King, for her part, remains amazed by Page.
“I don’t know, but he has this magic about coaching that other people don’t see,” she said. “He sees flaws, and he tells you exactly what you’re doing right and wrong. Every communication style works differently with different people, and I would pick it up, and if I didn’t he would tell me why. He’s an amazing coach.”
After a professional career shortened by a broken foot, King returned to The Flats to coach for a few years. She said she loved it, but a couple once-in-a-lifetime opportunities have since come along.
First, a friend began a training business from scratch in Los Angeles in 2005, and since King had always wanted to live in L.A., well, King wants what she wants . . .
“If I didn’t want to move to Los Angeles as badly as I did, I would have stayed. I went there when I was 9 with the Road Runners, and I remember flying into LA . . . and I just loved it. I always wanted to live there.”
Even while in L.A., however, King continued chasing another long-time dream: to work for NIKE. She missed out on a job there, but kept in contact with NIKE officials.
In March 2010, a final connection was made and now she lives in Miami and works with NIKE in sales. There is a lot of travel, and she stays very busy. But, again, she loves it.
King relishes talking about her time at Tech, where she said she got the most out of herself in every way.
“It’s more of a specialized institute. The clout of that carries weight. Academics are weighed heavily. If I had ended up at other schools, and certainly another state school, athletics would have outweighed academics but not at Tech,” she said.
“Every time I’m in Atlanta, I stop stop by the AA and see Jack Thompson and Lucious Sanford. I see Alan and coach Page a couple times a year, maybe at a meet here and there. I’m very excited to see all my girlfriends, and coaches, and other inductees. This is very special, and I feel privileged to be honored.”
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