Oct. 1, 2013
This is the third of a five part series featuring the 2013 Tulane Athletics Hall of Fame Class. The 2013 induction ceremonies will take place on Thursday, Oct. 3 from 6-9 p.m. at the Lavin-Bernick Center on the Tulane University Uptown campus.
"At `take your mark,' I tell myself to run my own race. At `get set,' I'm thinking about getting out of the blocks quickly. And when I hear the gun, I think `it's show time,'" said Garner, as she talks through the beginning of a race.
It was "show time" many times for the Tulane All-American, who will be one of the five members inducted into the Tulane Hall of Fame on Thursday, Oct. 3.
"It is an honor," said Garner on being inducted. "I had a `wow' moment when I received the call. Joining all of the great athletes before me, it's something I didn't imagine. I will admit I was jealous of the 1998 football team when they were inducted a while back, and I wondered about our 1999 indoor and outdoor team. But this honor by myself leaves me speechless."
From 1996 to 2000, the San Diego, Calif., native established many accolades and records on some of Tulane's most notable track and field teams.
"As a freshman, I was a skinny 17-year old that didn't know anything about college and/or about college track," said Garner. "I was very shy and nervous."
She may have been shy and nervous, but it certainly didn't translate that way on the track. In just her freshman year, Garner set the Tulane outdoor record and was an NCAA provisional qualifier in the 400 meters with a time of 53.68. She added two first-place finishes in the 400-meters to her resume, three top three finishes in the 800 meters, and scored 12 points for Tulane at the Conference USA Indoor Championship, including her integral performance in the Green Wave's second-place finish in the 4x400 meter relay during her rookie season.
While her first two years at Tulane saw many achievements, Garner sprinted to All-America and All-C-USA honors in both indoor and outdoor track and field during her junior season, and helped Tulane capture both the 1999 C-USA Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The 400-meter specialist earned both the C-USA Indoor and Outdoor Championships in that event, and the 4x400 meter relays, which also led her and the relay team to top 15 finishes in each event at the NCAA Championships.
Garner's participation in the Green Wave's record-setting distance medley relay helped Tulane to the C-USA crown, a third place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championship and Tulane's first-ever Championship of Americas award at the Penn Relays.
"My best accomplishment was truly getting a college degree," said Garner. "But winning the Penn Relays in the distance medley relay was crazy. We received a big plaque that is still in the Wilson Center. After winning we ran a celebration lap and threw Tulane Beanie Babies in the crowd."
By her senior season, Garner jokes, "I was still skinny, but I had muscles and grew into a leader and a captain." Along with that muscle and leadership, she also added four more C-USA gold medals to her trophy case. In her usual events, she was crowned C-USA champion in the indoor 4x400 meter relay and distance medley relay and in the outdoor 800 meters and 4x400 meter relay.
"My time at Tulane was great," said Garner. "All athletes across the board were like a family and we all looked out for each other. My track teammates were my brothers and sisters. We supported each other even when competing against one another. The championships were great with all of us fighting for every point needed, running race after race."
Thirteen years after running in her final event, Garner remains the school record holder in the outdoor 400 meter dash, and ranks among the top ten in school history in 10 total events, including the indoor 200 meters, 400 meters, 800 meters, 4x400 relay and distance medley relay; and the outdoor 400 meter, 800 meter, 4x100 relay, 4x400 relay and distance medley relay.
She compiled seven C-USA championships in indoor and outdoor events, two overall team C-USA championships, set records with three different relay teams and was a key member of Tulane's nationally ranked distance medley relay team that won the bronze at the NCAA Indoor Championships in 1999.
After graduation, Garner went on to graduate school at the University of New Orleans. While pursuing her Master's degree, she continued to be a part of Tulane's track and field team as an assistant coach. Although she was no longer sprinting down the track, Garner helped coach the Green Wave to nine individual C-USA championships and the 2001 C-USA Outdoor team Championship.
"I want to be remembered as: a person that always tried to do her best, a hard worker, level headed with a great attitude," said Garner. "Tulane gave me the tools to succeed; great leadership skills and the determination to do anything I desire."
Today, Garner has used those tools to build her own program in her hometown, where she is a special education teacher and the head coach of her high school's track and field team. While raising her two daughters, she is also raising and guiding the lives of her students and athletes for their big race one day.
A head coach since 2007, three of her girls and boys have won the Eastern League Championships and 10 athletes have earned collegiate track scholarships. Every year she has taken four athletes to the California State Meet to compete amongst California's best track and field athletes.
Garner said at the end of the race, she tries to recall the things she liked and things she didn't like while checking her time and points earned. Garner's time at Tulane was one filled with exceptional awards and great achievements, and it pointed her in the direction to be the leader she is today.
The 2013 Tulane Athletics Hall of Fame Class Profiles:
Part I: Belanger Closes Out Tulane Career with Induction into Hall of Fame