Leah Banks sprints past the competition


Cristian Orellana

Leah Banks, mass communication junior, broke 10 records in both outdoor and indoor track and field during the 2017 season. Banks said she wants to be “the demonstrative piece for what hard work and determination” can give athletes. CRISTIAN ORELLANA/ The Maroon. Photo credit: Cristian Orellana

Will Ingram

Since the age of the Ancient Greeks, track and field has been used to test the physicality of the human body through speed endurance and strength.

Only the best runners, jumpers, and throwers got the chance to stand on the highest pedestal and take home the gold medal.

For Loyola, one such athlete has proven herself to always stand on a pedestal whether as a runner, jumper or thrower.

Mass communication junior Leah Banks set the 2017 Loyola track and field program on fire as she broke 10 school records in both indoor and outdoor events, placed on the Louisiana Sports Writers Association All-State team and was Loyola’s first ever National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Outdoor Track and Field All-American for finishing sixth in the heptathlon, a competition consisting of seven track and field events.

“My motivation last year was simply to do something that hadn’t been done before,” Banks said. “It was something that I truly wanted and desired, and I continued to work hard even when I wasn’t at practice in order to make that possible. I wanted to be in the record books and make history, and I worked for it.”

Having her name in record books was a goal of hers even before she became a member of the Wolf Pack.

“Being a heptathlete, winning medals and breaking records was something that I wanted to do from the moment I set foot on Loyola’s campus,” she said. “It was something I knew would be a challenge since the heptathlon is not an easy event and it takes a lot of patience and motivation, but I thought that I had what it took to make that happen and achieve great things.”

Head coach Nicholas Dodson noticed motivation was a key for Banks last year. It drove her to historic success, and he said this year is nothing different.

“She is a fierce competitor and responds well when competition arrives. I usually just go over our race plans and strategies each week and set the expectation, and then she goes in her own zone,” he said.

With the 2018 season in full swing, Banks looks to build upon her previous success.

“My goal this year is to do better and be better than I was last year,” she said. “Last year brought about a lot of setbacks and there were numerous things that I had to overcome. This year, with the training and the process, I feel more confident in being top three in the nation in both indoor and outdoor seasons.”

With only two years left at Loyola, she would like to leave a legacy of high standards for the program, the athletic department and Loyola itself.

“I want to be the true definition of the quote that says, ‘For the victory does not go to the swift, but to those who endure to the end,’” Banks said. “I want to set a standard. I want to be that demonstrative piece for what hard work and determination can truly get an athlete who sets goals for themselves.”

She wishes to not only make her mark at Loyola, but to have her legacy celebrated as one of the greatest.

“I want to be remembered as one of the greatest ever to wear a Loyola track and field uniform. I want my mark to be long-lasting and ultimately unforgettable,” she said.