Winning her first national title last year may be the biggest success of Barbara Nwaba’s career and the journey to getting there certainly resulted from thousands of tireless hours of training and hard work. This journey began as a young child when Barbara started running in an after school program. Barbara grew up in Los Angeles as one of six children in a very busy household. After graduating from University High School, she attended the University of California, Santa Barbara. There she set school records in the 100 and 400 meters hurdles and found frequent success in all the different heptathlon events she participated in as well.

As a strong hurdler, her skills translate well to the various heptathlon events but Nwaba will be the first to tell you it takes a long time getting used to all of the different events. Her coach, Josh Priester greatly assists in these efforts, “Having a good coach who really cares about me and my other teammates is tremendous. He not only helps with all the technical parts but also the mental parts of the sport. He helps us push through challenges and maintain our focus all the way through,” said Nwaba. Because of the seven different events, all requiring a unique skillset, training can be a challenge. Nwaba trains six days a week but has a different regimen each day. She trains with the Santa Barbara track club and is one of the original members of the club that opened in 2012. Training with other athletes on a daily basis is extremely beneficial to growth and development within the sport. The different athletes help hold each other accountable and provide support in the various training processes.

In addition to her training, Nwaba does some coaching and volunteer work but there is not much time left in the day for other activities. As a result, the grant from the USATF Foundation has been extremely beneficial for her training, “This is my third year receiving funding from the Foundation and it has been a huge blessing. When you are training and can only do a little bit of coaching on the side, the grant becomes very helpful. It allows me to travel, get quality shoes, and really everything I need. It has been a huge benefit to me,” Nwaba said. Nwaba is able to spend time coaching youth within the Santa Barbara Track Club. She is the head coach of the six through fourteen-year-old division and finds it to be an extremely rewarding experience. She continues to try to build off her national title last year as she moves toward the Olympic Qualifiers, with the end goal being to represent Team USA in Rio this summer.