What Happened After Joyner-Kersee Went To UCLA?

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Most athletes go through a turning point in their career before they begin to succeed beyond anyone’s imagination. This article aims to talk about this, more specifically, what happened after Joyner-Kersee went to UCLA. 

Jacqueline Joyner-Kersee is a former American track and field athlete. She was born in East St. Louis, Illinois on March 3, 1962.

Joyner-Kersee showed signs of success early on, proven by her qualification for the long jump finals at the 1980 Olympic Trials. 

However, a movie she saw about Babe Didrikson Zaharias inspired her to compete in multiple track and field events. 

Legendary Athlete Joyner-Kersee Celebrates Winning Gold
Legendary Athlete Joyner-Kersee Celebrating Winning Gold (Source: New York Amsterdam News)

Joyner-Kersee is ranked as one of the all-time greatest athletes in the heptathlon and the long jump. Her first international performance happened in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, where she won a silver medal. 

In the 1986 Goodwill Games, she scored over 7,000 points in a heptathlon event to become the first woman to achieve the feat. She was later awarded the James E. Sullivan Award, received as the top amateur athlete in the US.

Kersee performed in numerous international tournaments like the 1988 Summer Olympics, 1991 World Championships, 1992 Summer Olympics, 1996 Summer Olympics, and the 1998 Goodwill Games. 

In 1996, the legendary athlete signed with the Richmond Rage to play pro basketball in the American Basketball League. However, despite widespread fan support, she failed to make any significant impact, scoring under 15 points in any game. 

Kersee still holds the world record in the heptathlon of the top six all-time best results. Additionally, she has the record for second longest jump of all time at 7.49 meters.

What Happened After Joyner-Kersee Went To UCLA  

Joyner-Kersee had tasted success before joining UCLA. So what happened after Joyner-Kersee went to UCLA? Let’s find out. 

Kersee’s conditions growing up were far from being convenient. A female child of color growing up in Illinois in the 60s was far from anyone’s idle childhood. 

Joyner-Kersee At UCLA
Joyner-Kersee At UCLA (Source: UCLA Athletics)

Furthermore, Kersee lacked female role models to look up to as a child. Thus, when she got the opportunity to join the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), she knew she had to take it. 

After joining UCLA, Kersee finally found the role models she had always sought. Her role models appeared as Evelyn Ashford and Ann Meyers

She witnessed Meyers receive the first female athletic scholarship in the history of the NCAA. This sparked a belief and confidence in her that she could become something and achieve greatness.

At UCLA, the former athlete played for both track and field teams. In addition to that, she also starred in women’s basketball. 

Moreover, her training for the heptathlon for the 1984 Summer Olympic Games began at UCLA in 1981. She started training with her assistant track coach, Bob Kersee. 

She later married Bob Kersee in 1986 after graduating from UCLA. 

Furthermore, her performance in 1983 and 1985 won her the Broderick Award as the nation’s best female collegiate track and field competitor. Additionally, In 1985, she won the Honda-Broderick Cup as the nation’s best collegiate athlete. 

During her college career, Kersee scored 1,167 points, earning her the 19th place for the Bruins games of all time. In addition to this, she was awarded as one of the 15 greatest players in UCLA women’s basketball. 

Additionally, in April 2001, Kersee was awarded “Top Woman Collegiate Athlete of the Past 25 Years” for incredible achievement in collegiate-level sports.  

Philanthropy And Life After Retirement

Joyner-Kersee is a woman who doesn’t know how to switch off. After a long and promising career, while most athletes prefer a life of quiet and luxury, Kersee immersed herself in philanthropy.

After announcing her retirement from professional athletics in 1998, she performed at the 2000 Olympic Trials, trying to qualify for the long jump event happening in Sydney.

Joyner-Kersee Encouraging Children At An Outreach Program With Her Foundation
Joyner-Kersee Encouraging Children At An Outreach Program With Her Foundation (Source: Chicago Tribune)

However, her true calling was philanthropy. She is an active participant and one of the frontrunners in advocating for children’s education, racial equality, and women’s rights. 

Furthermore, she founded the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation in 1988. The organization prioritizes encouraging the youth of East St. Louis to pursue athletics and academics. 

Moreover, she was an active member of the board of directors of the USA Track and Field (USATF).

Additionally, she created the Internet Essentials program in 2011 in collaboration with Comcast. The program specializes in providing high-speed internet access to Americans with low income. 

In March 2023, Jackie Joyner-Kersee was inducted into the International Sports Hall of Fame. 

Shashwat Parajulee
Shashwat Parajulee

Shashwat Parajulee

Shashwat Parajulee is a versatile wordsmith with a penchant for exploring the multifaceted world of sports. His writing transcends traditional boundaries, offering readers a nuanced perspective on the intersection of athletics with culture, society, and beyond.


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With a background in journalism and a passion for sports, Shashwat brings a unique blend of analytical rigor and creative storytelling to his writing. He strives to inform, educate, and inspire readers, offering thought-provoking perspectives on the ever-evolving world of sports.

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