Daring to Dream
Feb. 19, 2010
Author G. Kingsley Ward once said, “dare to dream, dare to try, dare to fail, dare to succeed.”
Liz Alabi did just that throughout her four years as a track and field standout at Minnesota, but now she takes this quote to heart.
Alabi never considered herself a thrower in high school, but she loved sports. She believed her abilities were that of a sprinter, volleyball and a basketball player; and she had the accolades to prove it. She was a four-time varsity letter winner in track and field, volleyball and basketball at Brooklyn Center High School in Brooklyn Park, Minn. Throwing was something she did to score extra points for her team even after qualifying to the Minnesota State Championship and winning the shot put title in 2001.
Soon she caught the eye of the Minnesota track and field coaching staff. Alabi credits Gary Wilson, the former head coach at Minnesota, for seeing her potential and was shaped as an individual while working with assistant coach Lynne Anderson in the field events.
With the help of her coaches - Wilson and Anderson - Alabi won the 2007 Big Ten Championship for the weight throw and shot put, while also collecting the conference’s Indoor Field Athlete of the Year accolade. In addition, she still holds the school record in the hammer throw (199-8) and weight throw (69-3 ¾).
But despite all the individual accolades, Alabi, a two-year team captain, believes her biggest accomplishment was leading her team to the 2006 Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field title.
Heading into the 2006 Big Ten Championships, Jack Johnson - Minnesota’s equipment manager - passed away from cancer. The team was shaken by the loss of their mentor and friend, but decided to dedicate Johnson’s life with a win at the Big Ten Championships.
“Track and field is an individual sport,” recalls Alabi. “But we did whatever it took to win as a team; hoping for one outcome - the Big Ten title. “
In East Lansing, the Gophers did just that - winning the team title with a score of 152.5 points.
“This was the best,” recalls Alabi. “Jack meant a lot to our team and we really wanted to walk away with a championship for him. It felt good to win [the title].”
Alabi’s time spent at Minnesota has left her with great memories, however, athletics was just the stepping stone to her dreams.
As talented as Alabi was on the field, a track and field career was never her dream. Her dream was to become a doctor and to practice in maternal medicine or pediatric surgery. Alabi is pursuing that dream and currently in her second year of medical school at Saint Louis University Medical Center.
“I remember in the second and third grade and reading books about the body, symptoms and aliment,” Alabi recalls. “A Baby Story on TLC [was one] of my favorite shows to watch. Medicine was always my number one interest.”
What is remarkable about Alabi is her dedication to accomplish her childhood dream of becoming a doctor. Even more remarkable is her plans for the future.
After becoming a doctor, Alabi would like to open a medical clinic in Nigeria and also in the United States. Her goal is to open a medical center which specializes in all area of medicine and where doctors can practice preventative medicine. In addition, it will be place where people can go and get the treatment they need.
“How can you put a price on health care?” Alabi asked rhetorically. “There are too many people turned away from proper treatment because they cannot afford it.”
Minnesota has taught her what it means to be successful. She left with a solid foundation and the ability to follow her dream.
“What more can you ask for in a college experience?” Alabi says referring to the Minnesota and competing in the Big Ten.
Success starts with a dream. Is Alabi’s dream too big? Only time will tell. One thing is certain, she has what it takes to be successful.