Chanel Gardner profile

Imagine it’s junior year of high school, you’re a sprinter for the track and field team and you sprain your hamstring during a meet. That’s exactly what happened to women’s track and field sprinter Chanel Gardner.

Gardner started running as a freshman in high school. She first started with the shorter distance sprints like the 100m and 200m.

Gardner decided to come to Oakland University due to her track and field scholarship and the university’s physical therapy program. She has wanted to be a physical therapist since she was junior in high school.

During a meet, Gardner was running the 4x200m relay when she sprained her hamstring. She had to go to physical therapy, and felt she was at her strongest post physical therapy.

“…I had to recover for a minute and then my senior year I was the best I’ve ever been in my life,” Gardner said. “I was stronger, I was faster, I was competing like I’ve never competed in my life. I feel like if that can happen to me and I can get stronger, then I would love to do that for someone else.”

Since coming to Oakland, Gardner has began running longer distances such as the 400m, 600m and 800m. She said it’s hard to live up to people’s expectations of her, but it’s harder to live up to the expectations she has of herself.

Where most people might just expect Gardner to be faster than someone else, she expects herself to hit a certain time during every meet or have perfect form.

I expect to be on numerous amounts of social media pages after my races, or I expect to go to regionals or nationals this year and next year,” Gardner said. “I expect to keep my conference champion title every single year I run the 400m. So, yeah, I’m like, real nitpicky.”

Being a student-athlete has not stopped Gardner from being involved on campus and in the community. Gardner joined Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. in the fall of 2017, an accomplishment for which she is most proud.

If your proudest accomplishment comes from athletics, you’re probably not doing something right,” she said. “I definitely would say my proudest accomplishment would definitely be joining Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. definitely. And also my next accomplishment would be graduating soon. Since I will be like the second in my family to graduate.”

Between being a student-athlete, Greek and finding time to do school work, Gardner says it can be a bit stressful.

“It’s overwhelming sometimes,” she said. “…It’s real hard, but you’ve got to know time management, organization and then prioritize.”

According to Gardner, an athlete should never limit themselves.

“Never think that you have boundaries, or that you’re not capable of something that you thought would never happen in a million years,” she said. “It definitely could happen, so never put yourself in a box.”

After college, Gardner plans on focusing on her career in physical therapy, but running unattached in a few meets.

The next home track meets to take place will on April 6 against Horizon League rival, University Detroit-Mercy and April 12 for the Golden Grizzly Invite.