UNION, NJ – Union High School sophomore Chidumga Nkulume, a member of the Girls Track and Field, has been named April’s Athlete of the Month.

What’s your favorite part of being a high school athlete?

My favorite part about being a high school athlete is the attention. Everywhere you go, people know your important. It’s a really good confidence booster and it makes me feel special.

Sign Up for E-News

Who is your favorite athlete and why?

My favorite athlete is Sanya Richards Ross. She is a 4-time Olympic gold medalist in Track and Field. When I was twelve years old, she wrote me a letter about how important I was as an athlete, and ever since then I’ve loved her. She’s my favorite athlete because she doesn’t let one bad race define her. She works hard, focuses on the next race ahead, and is always aiming for her next personal best. Whenever I have a bad race, I tend to let it get to my head. Watching her races and hearing about her story gives me hope of one day being able to do the same things she has accomplished.

What are the most important attributes of being a leader?

Respect and support are the most important attributes of being a leader. It’s important to respect your teammates so they don’t feel any less important than you are. Support is also very important because it encourages athletes to not give up even in the toughest situations.

What is your greatest high school accomplishment so far?

I believe my greatest high school accomplishment was when I came third in new balance nationals last year, to become the third fastest freshman in the country. Nationals is tough and being able to place means your someone people need to look out for.

Do you play any other sports? What’s your favorite?

I don’t play any other sports. I would prefer to put all my focus into Track & Field since it’s a huge part of my life.

What’s your favorite subject? Why?

My favorite subject is English. I love reading and visualizing characters and scenes.

If you could spend the day with anyone in the world alive or dead, who would it be? 

If I could spend the day with anyone, it would be Usain Bolt. Bolt is a huge role model for thousands of athletes around the world. I would love to meet him because he can run times that nobody in the world can currently run. Maybe, he could give me tips on how he became so fast.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

As of right now, I want to become a sports physical therapist when I’m older. My decision might change, but I think it would be nice to do something that has a connection to me in some way.

What was the most difficult thing for you to overcome as a student-athlete?

As a student athlete, the most difficult thing to overcome was learning that there’s always someone better. No matter how good you are, there’s always someone competing and working just as hard for the top spot. It was hard for me at first because I was so used to first place and nothing but first. Being an underclassman is tough because you have to compete with older athletes. I have now adjusted to the competition and I use my competition to push myself so I can run faster.

What would your words of wisdom be to future UHS athletes?

The best advice I can give is to stay strong even when you feel like giving up. Being an athlete is tough. Sometimes you find yourself questioning why your still doing what you do. All you can do is be strong and push forward. You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.

Who inspires you?

My former coach, Coach Al and current coach, Coach Stewart inspire me the most. Before a race, I think about all the coaches that have made me better. Who worry, prepare, and work even when I don’t. My coaches have not only prepared me for track, but they have, and are still preparing me for life in the future.

What are your plans after high school?

After high school, I want run at the 2020 Olympics. It’s a tough goal but I’m going work hard for it. After that, I want to go to a good college and later get a job that I’ll love.