To Coach Singleton, everyone on the track team was suga’ pie, suga’ plum, suga’ love or just plain suga’. And she’d shout those names from the sidelines as her runners sprinted their last 50 meters or huffed around a bend.
C’mon suga’ pie! Run faster!
At practice or at meets, she’d run alongside them. If she couldn’t keep up, she’d dash across the field.
Use your arms! Breathe out your mouth! You can push!
As they crossed the finish line, Coach Singleton was always there, waiting in the grass with a high five.
When Jamaica Miller was a senior at Goose Creek High School, headed to Claflin University in the fall, she told Singleton she didn’t want to run in college. Miller was one of Singleton’s best athletes. Her P.R. in the 400-meter dash was 62 seconds flat. Whenever Miller didn’t feel fast enough or good enough or strong enough, Singleton would say, “When you run, leave it all on the track.”
But Miller planned to major in biology, so she could become a pediatrician. People told her she wouldn’t have time for sports.
They were on the bus on their way to a track meet after school. Miller had made up her mind, but Singleton was insistent. She told Miller she had a friend in college who majored in biology and ran track all four years. That friend, Singleton told her, became a doctor, too.
Miller compromised. She’d redshirt freshman year. But during the second week of school the following August, as she sat in her dorm room after class without much to do, Miller emailed the university’s track coach, introducing herself, her races and her times.
He got back to her a few hours later and they met in his office that afternoon.
“I already know everything about you,” he said. Coach Singleton had emailed him months ago. “She told me you were gonna run.”