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Mar 02, 2023

The Real McCoy

By: Eli Olguin

The Freshman Phenom Who's Just Getting Started

If you haven’t heard his name yet, you haven’t been paying attention. Freshman Wanya McCoy is the real deal, and he just proved it at ACC Championships.

From humble beginnings on Berry Island, Bahamas, McCoy explains his childhood and his life growing up in the Caribbean. “To be honest, I grew up with a very simple life. It was fun! We would swim every day, ride bikes, and play basketball. Just do anything fun!”

McCoy’s journey to Clemson, South Carolina was anything but ordinary. The freshman standout only started running track during his senior year of high school and didn’t know if there was a future in collegiate track.

“It happened very late for me compared to most track athletes. I started running my senior year, and I didn’t know if I could get a scholarship or anything like that, but all I knew was that I was running fast and continuing to get faster.

His coach said he had spoken to a few schools but didn’t say which ones. “Then one day I was sitting at home chillin’, and I get a random phone call from a number I didn’t recognize. Turns out it was Coach Elliott, and he was offering me a scholarship.”

McCoy liked the “vibe” of Clemson which was crucial in deciding on where to go to college. After only taking one college visit to Clemson, he felt the buzz around campus and from the students, which was enough reason for Wanya to commit to Coach Elliott and the Tigers.

“I could just tell it was a family environment, where people here care about you beyond what you do on the track. The advisors, professors and teammates.”

McCoy made an immediate impact once stepping onto campus, meshing with his teammates right away and getting straight to business on the track. When asked what he attributes his success to his All-American outdoor season, McCoy says, “it’s all about inner drive. I had no idea I would run that fast given that I came to Clemson mid-year, but I’m super competitive so I just do what I must do and hope for the best.”

Every athlete has their own ritual or a superstition they follow before every game, race or contest to ensure they do their best. McCoy is no different.

“Crazy enough, I listen to Michael Jackson to get in the right mindset before stepping on to the track. Any song works, but I particularly like ‘Can you feel it’ by the Jackson 5. I bounce around the track singing it in my head and that would get me hyped.”

In addition to his his success thus far, McCoy has his eyes set on the road in front of him and isn’t going to let up as he has more energy and great teammates around him.

In his freshman indoor season, McCoy has looked anything but a newcomer to the port. He has run the 200-meter dash, 400 meter dash and 4x400m relay. At ACC Championships, he earned the distinction of men’s track MVP after winning both the 400 meter and 4×400 meter relay, to go along with a fifth-place finish in the 200-meter dash.

His season isn’t over yet, as he and the rest of the ACC record-holding men’s 4×400 meter relay team will head to Albuquerque, N.M. to compete for a national title in the event, while McCoy will contest the 400 meters individually.

Event after event, McCoy continues to impress not only his team and the coaching staff but the entire country as well. McCoy believes that individual accolades are great, but track is a team sport.

“Although you run individually your team always gives you a boost. You don’t just run for you, you run for your teammates, and they hype you up as well. Having my team behind me always makes me want to do better, and they give me more confidence.”

The Bahamian freshman loves competing for his country in national meets and loves going back home, as well as repping the orange and purple of his Clemson Tigers. With a team-oriented attitude and a humble demeanor, Wanya McCoy is a name that will be written in the Clemson track and field record book several times over.