In Shamoya McNeil’s homeland of Jamaica, her primary school would often host small events where the students would compete against each other.
After watching her compete in one of the events, the track and field coach at her school invited McNeil to try out.
The now junior triple jumper explained that sports are very important in Jamaica and are emphasized by involving students in them early on by hosting events such as “sports days.”
“It starts in the school systems and you go on to high school and then, if you want and if you’re good enough, you continue,” McNeil said. “It is about your interest and how good you are, then you’ll know if it is very important to you or if you’re interested in continuing.”
McNeil came to the United States in 2014 when she enrolled at WVU as a freshman.
“I would use the word anxious,” McNeil said about coming to the United States. “I knew it would be different and I was ready to take things on in the ‘new world’ I was in.”
She said one of the biggest changes in coming to the U.S. was the weather.
“It changes here,” McNeil said. “Most of the time in Jamaica it just stays the same so we don’t have to change our daily routine for the weather like we do here.”
She chose to bring her talents to WVU for two reasons, one being assistant coach Shelly-Ann Gallimore, and the other being academics.
“(Gallimore) came to my championship in Jamaica and recruited me, as well as other coaches from other schools, but I thought the offer that was placed by West Virginia was better than the others,” McNeil said. “I also thought since Shelly is also Jamaican, that would be a good guidance and background for me, so I chose this school.”
Academically and athletically, McNeil has proven her worth as a Mountaineer.
She earned Academic All-Big 12 first team her sophomore year, as well as earning All-Big 12 at the 2016 Track and Field Big 12 Championships for her performance in the triple jump.
“West Virginia has a good academic standard,” NcNeil said. “I’m interested in that along with my track career, so I thought that this would be a good mixture of everything.”