Terrence Brown won two state championships in the high jump as a high school student, and he had hopes of clearing heights even loftier than his personal-best 6 feet 5 inches when he enrolled at Division II St. Augustine's College in Raleigh, N.C.
Located on the same street as N.C. State, St. Augustine's is a historically black college that is known as a track powerhouse.
"They didn't have a high jumper," Brown said, "so I figured I'd make them stronger in that area."
Brown had to redshirt his freshman year because of insufficient SAT scores, and he was doubly disappointed that his coach at St. Augustine's didn't allow him to compete at meets as an "unattached" competitor, without connection to the squad. After a year in Raleigh, Brown transferred to Coppin State in Baltimore.
At Coppin State, Brown said he immediately bonded with teammates and Coach Carl Hicks. He joined the track team as a walk-on in September 2001 and began training for the upcoming season by running cross-country.
After his first indoor meet, Brown tore a ligament in his right ankle while doing a training run on a cross-country course. He was fitted with an air cast for about a month, and soon was back in action. He said he came back prematurely, but his desire wouldn't allow him to sit any longer.
"I was hungry to come back," he said. "If I look back on [the injury] I would have done the same thing again because I sat out my whole freshman year."
Brown's ankle continued to heal during the spring outdoor season, and he finished third in the high jump at the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championships.
This past winter, Brown jumped 6-5 in his first indoor meet, but again had a promising season hampered by injury, this time by tendinitis in his left knee. He competed in every meet, but felt as if he fell short of his potential.
Then last month -- a week before Coppin's first outdoor meet at UMBC -- Brown strained his right hamstring. He still was able to high jump 6-4.
"I feel like I never have shown my true potential," Brown said. "Whatever I had in high school, I've still got in me now, but there's always been something to stop me.
"The fact that I love the sport and that I never reached my full potential is one of the things that keeps me going. I know I could do big things in the sport if I could just stay healthy."
Brown is a sports management major with plans to graduate in either spring 2004 or early 2005. In addition to track and taking 18 credit hours in courses, Brown works in Coppin State's athletic communications office and helps run a Web site to assist sports management majors in scheduling their classes.
-- Dave Yanovitz