ALAMOSA — Decorated distance runner Zoila Gomez gave a lunch-time talk at the TSJC auditorium for Hispanic Heritage Month.
Born in Mexico Gomez made her way to Colorado after being told about the prestigious running program at Adams State run by valley legend Joe. I. Vigil. As a Grizzly, Gomez went on to be named a NCAA Division II All-American eleven times and earned six Division Championships. During the 03-04 season Gomez was given the Honda Sports ‘Athlete of the Year’ Award in Division II college sports.
Gomez’s accomplishments go beyond Adams State. One of her proudest achievements was gaining her American citizenship in 2006. From there she participated in the 2007 and 2009 IAAF World Track and Field Championships representing America and was a first alternate on the 2008 U.S Olympic team.
Wednesday afternoon Gomez’s talk covered a number of topics from her upbringing, to her experiences performing at a high level athletically to the differences between Mexican and American culture. As an athlete Gomez’s talk was largely geared towards the importance of having a good support base and believing in oneself, both of which were recurring themes.
Gomez discussed her support base with her high school teacher in California encouraging her to go to Adams State. She also showed appreciation for the support she received from then coach at ASU Damon Martin saying, “He was a great supporter, he was a great motivator. I really owe him a lot for just believing in me.” Currently Gomez works right here in Alamosa at Cooking Matters which cultivates nutrition courses all over the valley.
Looking forward Gomez has gone full circle from being able to accept that support and mentorship to possibly getting the opportunity to fill the role of a mentor herself. “I want to go to a training camp. I never had that opportunity when I was training professionally. So I really want to go and see what a training camp would be like, with (runners who come to the valley to train) and learn from them” Gomez said of her future plans.
Seeing the possibility of a training camp as a nice little vacation getaway she continued speaking on her evolving role in the sport of distance running, “I really want to continue to learn about the sport through them. Because I’m passionate about it, I’m kind of like a fan of it. I don’t know, maybe that could be something. Taking athletes there and teaching them the way, if they’re trying to train professionally.”
While she admits her body’s limitations and is focused on her job she seems ready to stay involved in running stating with a knowing grin, “racing and training is not my priority right now, my job is. But I’m already asking for my vacation.”