Ugen: From London to Fort Worth
Feb. 26, 2014
By David Cohen
TCU Athletic Media Relations
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Most NCAA champions and four-time All-Americans are highly regarded in high school, and TCU's Lorraine Ugen was one of those recruits. The only catch was she had never actually met her future coaches or saw TCU until her first day as a collegiate student-athlete.
"We saw video of her competing because she was on the Britain junior team and she had done some other international stuff," TCU track & field coach Darryl Anderson said. "We were well aware of her talent, but we had never met her face to face."
While Ugen is far from the first athlete to be discovered on video, it was the mystery of moving to a different continent that could have posed a mental challenge. Fort Worth is a big city, but nothing like London. Ugen, however, passed her first test of being a collegiate student-athlete ready to spend her next four years overseas.
"(The biggest difference from London was) definitely the amount of people," she said. "London is always so busy and there is so much action. Texas is a lot slower. It took a lot to get used to it. When you look around, there are just not that many people around."
Ugen may be still adjusting to Fort Worth's slower pace, but she did not have too much of a problem in last year's NCAA Outdoor Championships when she took the women's long jump title in Eugene, Ore. Her third and winning jump of 22-2 ½ feet (6.77m) made up for two rough starts that had her 23rd overall going into her final attempt.
Ugen has made her mark in facets of the collegiate track world. She was the Mountain West Conference's 2012 outdoor champion in the 100-meter dash and 4x100 meter relay as a freshman and participated in the 2012 United Kingdom Olympic Trials Qualifier. She has since progressed into being a 2012 first-team Indoor All-American for the long jump and earned the same honors for the 2013 outdoor campaign.
She cites her secret to success is just to be herself.
"I just try to act as normal as possible," Ugen says about meet days. "That's the one thing I've learned. I act like it's a normal day. If I think any different, I get nervous. I try to eat a normal breakfast. The only time I think about the competition is when I try to warm up."
She also admits that her pre-race routine is "silly," but it would be hard to argue her results.
"Before the competition starts, I try not to think about it at all," she said. "I don't want my head to be cloudy and going crazy all day. If we are in the hotel I'll just be eating breakfast or watching TV or listening to music. I like to listen to music while I warm up, and that's probably my one pre-race regimen."
Trying not to overthink a race is one thing, but Anderson was certainly curious as to how Ugen's mindset would be for the long haul when she first arrived on campus.
"I think when you come from another country, you get nervous in thinking if you made the right decision with how school is going to be and living arrangements," he said. "There's a ton of things you look at when you (originally) lived around the corner or in a different state or from another country and continent.
"You are leery and concerned and nervous," Anderson said. "How will this impact the dreams and goals I set for myself to be on the world champ team, which she was on last summer, and win the NCAA title, which she did last summer."
Ugen's nerves may be in the rearview mirror for now. Anderson has grown quite fond of her humor, something he cites as her best quality besides what she does in the record books.
"She's funny," he said. "She has a very good personality and a very funny one. I think those are good qualities for anyone. She always seems to be upbeat most of the time, which is a very good quality for young people."
As any responsible student-athlete would attest to, one always has to think about their life after sports, and Ugen is one of those people.
"I am a film, television, digital media major," she said. "I kind of like documentaries and I like videography. I want to do something along the lines of making them or event videos for businesses."
Ugen and the Frogs will participate in the Big 12 Conference Indoor Championships Friday and Saturday in Ames, Iowa. She is currently ranked No. 1 in the conference and fourth nationally in the event with a jump of 21-0.75 at the New Mexico Invitational in early February.