They say first impressions are important. Ashante Little seems to have that nailed down, judging by her first encounter with Dave Cusano, Wheaton’s head track and field coach, during his first season on campus in 2012.
“When I first met Ashante, she asked, ‘How are you going to make me a national champion?’” Cusano recalls. “I knew right from that moment that I was going to have an opportunity to coach someone very special.”
Their teamwork, indeed, has led Little to her greatest achievement on the track. Last spring she captured her first career national title with a personal best time of 54.79 seconds in the 400-meter dash at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championship in La Crosse, Wis.
“Before the final of the 400-meter, coach told me I could do it,” she says. “It had been a long weekend and we still had races to finish, but his trust and reassurance kept me out of my own head and helped me stay as focused and on target as I could be.”
As Cusano recalls, “Was I nervous about Ashante’s race? No, but I could see signs of fatigue from her racing eight times over a three-day span at the biggest meet of the season. But what she expected from herself was greatness and she achieved it.”