Long Beach State University track and field head coach LaTanya Sheffield was awarded the USA Track and Field President’s Award at the 2021 USATF Annual Meeting in Orlando in December.
The United States Sports Academy’s 2016 Alumna of the Year, Sheffield Sheffield has served as development chair, advocating for athletes and coaches with USA Track and Field for almost 15 years now. An Olympian in the 400m hurdles, and an Olympic assistant coach, she served on two Olympic staffs, including this past summer in Tokyo. In addition to her tenures on the Olympic staff, she coached in three separate Pan American Games (2007, 2011, 2019), the 2013 World Championships, and two different World Indoor Championships (2006, 2008).
Sheffield earned her Bachelor of Sports Science degree in sports management from the Academy in 2011. Sheffield said her Academy education has been important to her success as a coach.
“It made sense for me to pursue my degree at the United States Sports Academy, so I could coach at a whole other level,” she said.
“I know to be an NCAA coach there is a lot of administration. A lot of sports is about accounting, budgeting, marketing and sponsorships and that’s what the Academy has taught me.
“My degree program at the Academy was rigorous and it made me strive to excel. The program helped me to press for excellence and was important in my getting my job at Long Beach State.
“The Academy also helped me achieve a more complete understanding of what modern student-athletes go through and prepared me academically to be a better coach.”
She has been a part of the Long Beach State family for a decade, serving as the head coach of the track and field team and working with all the relays, sprints, and hurdles student-athletes.
Since 2013, she has mentored 15 Big West champions, sent 11 to the NCAA championships, and seen her charges qualify for the NCAA preliminaries in 40 events. Overall, she has helped lead LBSU to six team championships in her eight seasons, including the first women’s title in program history. The upcoming 2022 indoor and outdoor seasons will mark her tenth season as a coach at Long Beach State.
As an athlete, Sheffield was a finalist in the 400-meter hurdles at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. She finished eighth with a time of 54.36 seconds. Sheffield also represented the United States at the 1987 World Championships. She was a two-time gold medalist at the Olympic Sports Festival in 1987 and 1993 and won a bronze medal at the 1987 Pan American Games.
Sheffield established an American record in the women’s 400-meter hurdles in 1985 with a run of 54.66 seconds. She excelled in track at San Diego State University (SDSU), where she was a two-time All-American and 1985 NCAA Champion in the 400-meter hurdles. She was inducted into the SDSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993.