Seaver College Student-Athlete Izzy Connell Breaks Multiple Women’s Track Records

April 8, 2016  | 3 min read

Pepperdine University track athlete Izzy Connell broke her own records in the 100- and 200-meter races at the Bruin Legends Invitational at the University of California, Los Angeles, on April 2. Connell has broken multiple school records for the women’s track team, including in the 6200 and 4x400 indoor records, as well as the 400 and 4x400 outdoor records.

The Seaver College junior broke the 400-meter race record with a time of 24.97 seconds at the Spring Break Invitational at University of California, Irvine, on March 19. This race was against some of the fastest runners from other Southern California schools, like University of California, Los Angeles, and California State University, Fullerton.

On describing this win, Connell says she was simply aiming for an adequate time. “I was actually a little surprised when I broke the school record,” she admits. “I was told [about it] right when I walked off the track, and I was drying because running a lap for me is like running a whole marathon, so that was exciting!”

Even more remarkable is Connell’s absence from the world of track for a full year prior to her win, as she spent time studying abroad in Florence, Italy, as part of Pepperdine’s International Programs. Upon her return to Malibu, head coach Robert Radnoti welcomed her back to the team to compete again.

Connell credits her teammates and coaches for her recognition, and expresses a genuine appreciation of her team, explaining, “They are like family to me. I definitely would not have made it this far without them.”

She especially values the training she has received from assistant coach Venus Jewett (whom the athletes call “Coach V”), as her approach to track is much more focused on the individual athletes rather than the scores they can potentially generate. “She has done a great job of forming a real connection with all of the track athletes, whether they’re her sprinters or the long-distance girls,” Connell shares. “She really knows the ins and outs of track, and the mental and physical competition, because track is definitely more than just sprinting for 12 seconds. There’s a lot more to it.”  

The best advice Connell has received has also been from Coach V, who taught her the value of having fun and enjoying what she does, because without enthusiasm and passion, people can feel burnt out very quickly. Connell says that this philosophy has had a strong, positive impact on her. “I believe it’s helped me perform better than I ever have, because I’m able to actually look forward to going to practice, and look forward to going to meets, instead of being frozen in fear that I won’t hit a certain time.”

She explains that student-athletes have a tendency to become overly focused on having to win a match or game, and beat their rival teams. But they will never be fully happy or satisfied with their results if they do not actually enjoy their sport.

Assistant strength and conditioning coach Adam Estrin has played a part in Connell’s success as well. “He has so much patience, and he really believes in all of us, and pushes us to pass the limit that we think we can hit,” she reveals.

Connell’s longtime involvement with track has also benefited other aspects of her life. “College is all about making connections and creating lifetime friendships, and you can’t do that if you’re just in the library, so I definitely try to manage my time. And track has taught me how to do that well,” she notes, adding that, “In terms of relationships and friendships, and the different roles that I play, I have definitely learned to take responsibility for my actions and hold myself accountable.”  

Aside from her passion for the sport that has given her a lifetime of discipline and success, the psychology major aspires to pursue a career as a licensed marriage and family therapist.