An 'Unbelievable Experience' for Alvis Whitted at U.S. Olympic Trials, European Track and Field Events
Check Alvis Whitted's profile on Wisconsin's athletic department website, and fans will see a nine-year NFL veteran who played in 122 games. One who later turned to coaching to guide the next generation of wide receivers and molded three players into All-Americans at the position while at Colorado State. He also spent time in the NFL last season leading a room with one of the league's dynamic players in Davante Adams.
Look a little lower on the page, however, and Whitted also excelled as a two-sport student-athlete at N.C. State in football and track. A two-time All-American for the Wolfpack in the latter, he still holds the program's record in the 100-meter dash at 10.02 seconds.
For that matter, Whitted also competed in the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials, recording a sixth-place finish in the 200-meter final that included such noted American track superstars as Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson. Johnson set a world record in that competition with an electric 19.66 seconds.
As Whitted explained, he also received the opportunity to compete internationally that summer as well. According to five-time Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) champion, "it was an unbelievable experience, especially at that time in my life," as a young student-athlete and also for his family.
"Just being a kid from North Carolina and not being out of the country at that time, to be able to see the world and see different countries and be on that platform and compete with the best in the world, it was a tremendous experience," Whitted told AllBadgers.com on May 29.
"One that I'll always treasure and cherish and taught me a lot of lessons just about competition and how to carry yourself as a professional even though I wasn't. I was still in college, but it gave me a unique perspective of, 'This is what life is about.' It's about putting yourself out there, showing what you can do, giving it your best competing. It was great just to be out there with those individuals, because a lot of those competitors they were running for, they were competing for their country."
Whitted noted during that summer that Nike allowed student-athletes the opportunity to travel and compete on the European circuit. According to the former Jacksonville Jaguar, Atlanta Falcon and Oakland Raider, female and male track standouts from the ACC flew across the Atlantic Ocean to compete on that continent.
Their first stop was in Sweden, and as Whitted recalled upon arrival right off the plane, he had a quick warmup before competing in a stadium packed full of fans.
"Then I won that race, and then I went to Gateshead, England ... and ran against Linford Christie, Roger Black for Great Britain," Whitted said. "I won the 200(-meter race) there, and then got invited to this meet that was part of one of the 'Golden Four' meets in Europe."
That was the Bislett Games in Oslo, Norway. Whitted received the chance once again to face off against Johnson, but also Frankie Fredericks. The famous track and athlete standout from Namibia won four silver medals between the 1992 and 1996 Olympic games.
Fredericks won that 200-meter race against Johnson, and Whitted finished fourth out of six.
"I actually just watched it on YouTube to revisit it, and I shared it with my wife and my family, and I was like, 'Wow, look at this stadium packed full of people looking to see some of the best in the world compete,' Whitted said. "And again, I was part of it, and it was just amazing. The culture, the different cultures, just being able to be out there and represent yourself, represent your university, your family, and put it all out there."
"It was great. Very, very unique experience and one that I'll never forget."
When asked if Lewis or Johnson gave him any advice, Whitted said he remembered having a couple of conversations with the latter after the meet in Oslo.
One of the tips from Johnson, who won gold medals during the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games and eclipsed his world record in the 200-meters later that year in Atlanta:
"Put the work in, put the time in," Whitted said. "Your time is coming, and good things happen to the people that continue to have that mindset. He was gracious, being a great ambassador for our country. It really gave me a pep, and it gave me something to work towards and continue to look and evolve and grow.
"I was so excited that he actually took the time to share that with me, and as you know, he went on to break the record at the Olympics, and to see that was amazing. But to just be a part of history that year, the first time that he broke the world record -- and then to be able to run against him in another setting in Europe -- I tell you what, it was amazing. Great experience."
Check back with AllBadgers.com for another article about Whitted and how he is working into his role as Wisconsin wide receivers coach during the COVID-19 pandemic.