Carmelita Jeter was crowned 'Fastest Woman Alive' when she ran a 10.64-second 100-meter dash in 2009. Now she is a coach at Missouri State University where she was the keynote speaker for New Student Convocation where myself, along with so many other students, fell in love.
Morgan George(MG): First off, I want to say welcome to Missouri State and I just want to say that I am super excited to get a chance to talk with you one on one. I was at New Student Convocation with some of my sisters when I heard you speak. I loved it; I tweeted at you. I was the biggest fan ever since then.
It is just the way that you are able to communicate from a different generation to ours is something that I have never seen before. I mean, we have Clif Smart and he tries and I love it, but it is really nice to see it from somebody else.
I understand that being 'the fastest woman alive' is part of who you are, it is part of you, but all the interviews I looked up were about that and your athletics and not about who you are as a person.
I wanted to go beyond the title and know stuff about you because I feel that is something interesting for other people as well as the students on campus.
So first off, I saw an interview that you did with 417 Magazine, I did some stalking online. You said that you wanted to get into collegiate coaching but what about collegiate coaching drew you to be here?
Carmelita Jeter(CJ): So what drew me to collegiate coaching was the team-based atmosphere. Being part of a team; running for Team USA for so many years, I was part of a team.
Before I came here I was coaching a couple of professional runners and it is just not a team. It is me coaching one person and being a team whereas me coaching a team to win a championship was something more that I wanted to gear my direction to and give my energy.
MG: I get that. I ran track for a hot second in high school and I liked the team and the workout but I was just not good at running. I am not a good runner.
CJ: That's okay. The energy.
MG: So how long have you been here in Springfield?
CJ: I have been in Springfield since September of 2018, so yes almost a year. It will be a year next month.
MG: I bet that is a super huge change coming from LA to be here.
CJ: You know, coming to Missouri was a super huge change. One of the things you notice off the bat is the lack of diversity.
Ask California or Los Angeles. What I have noticed is that I have met some great people, some amazing people. When you go from one place to another pace, the purpose is to grow and be better at your craft which is why I am here.
MG: Yea, I like that. There isn't a whole lot of anything here. I work with kids and I have noticed that in the schools as well and how students react to others. You are now a local, I am going to call you a local, is there any place in town that you are a super big fan of that if we went out on the weekends we would run into you?
CJ: I call myself a local now because I survived the winter. Coming from LA and not having snow or weather under 50, I survived my first winter. You know in LA we dress cute warm but here you have to dress warm warm.
It is a big difference. I love Ocean's Zen, I love eating there I love the food. You can find me at the Alamo Draft House movie theater I love going to the movies there. I am a movie junkie; I probably go to the movies once every two weeks. I love to shop at Harem & Company, so you could also find me there walking around so there are a couple of spots you can find me at.
MG: Cool. And where could we find you after a hard day; a real hard day working or coaching, where would you be?
CJ: A real tough day, you'll find me at FD's because that means I don't feel like cooking, and I'm tired and I just want the salmon with vegetables on the side.
So FD's is usually where you can find me when I am just exhausted. Another place that you can find me when I have had a long rough day is at home. Sometimes you just don't want to be around people.
MG: Nope, I understand.
CJ: Sometimes you just want to go home.
MG: And you have your cats to go home to.
CJ: Yes, so that's fine!
MG: Do you watch Netflix? What is the most recent thing that is on your watch list?
CJ: I do. I just watched the Dave Chappelcomedy special two days ago. If I am not watching comedy, I love the show Blacklist. I love the shows with the Mexican cartel, I am a big Netflix fan, the last movie I watched was When They See Us. I love Netflix, you can pause, you can go back to it, you can watch it in the office if you need to.
MG: I do that in the library sometimes. So if you are rushing out of the house, what is the number one thing you cannot leave without besides your phone?
CJ: My organizer. I am not a person that puts things on the computer or the laptops or an iPad, I write everything down. So if I don't have this *cue an overstuffed Louis Vuitton planner* my life is over. I don't know what to do. I will leave my phone before I leave my planner.
MG: Dang okay! What would you say your guilty pleasure would be?
CJ: I love sweets and shopping. Those are my two biggest problems, given that Coach Jet will be 40 in November, of course, my metabolism is changing so eating a bunch of sweets might not be the best thing when trying to fit into your clothes.
MG: Right, but that makes your soul happy and that's what matters! I watched a different interview with PopSugar in 2013 and you were talking about how you were really close with your aunt, could you share a little about your relationship that you had with her and the role that she had in your life until now?
CJ: Well, my aunt passed away in 2012 to breast cancer and she was a real role model in my life. People always ask me who my role model was growing up, expecting it to be all of these sports people but it wasn't. It was a woman that went to school, got her masters, worked at an amazing company, had her own house.
In my eyes, that was balling. She was just so flashy, sharp, and educated. We called her bougie because she always got her hair done every Friday, her nails done every Friday.
She was just the ideal woman that you see on TV that you want to be. So growing up, and looking at her, I idolized her. I bought my first house right down the street from hers. It definitely hurt when I lost her in 2012, but the only thing that did was make me an advocate for breast cancer just to keep her alive, keep her spirit alive, keep her name flowing.
MG: I love that and I really understand that. Another part of that interview, you were in the kitchen cooking tacos with your friend. You touched on how the kitchen is such an important part of your home and social life. Why is that?
CJ: The kitchen says a lot about you. I tell people all the time, if you go to someone's house and their kitchen is dirty, their bathroom is dirty, you are probably dealing with a dirty person. The kitchen should be the cleanest part of your health.
The kitchen is an important part to me because it is kind of like your therapy place. You go in and cook, I love to eat, I love it clean. Sometimes I go in and start playing music so my kitchen is more like therapy for me, my safe haven.
It has to look clean. I am that person that if you go in an don't almost pass out from cleaning products, you didn't clean well enough.
MG: What is your best advice for a college student that is trying to be healthy and might be on a budget or subject to dorm food?
CJ: A. Have fun and have memories. If you leave college and don't have any memories that mean you didn't have fun. As far as eating in the dorms and being on a budget, I know when I went to college and I was on a budget and I was eating Top Ramen and cereal. It is just different when you are in college, you know. Google some things that can keep you healthy yet inexpensive and go from there.
MG: What is your favorite thing that you can cook?
CJ: My favorite thing that I can cook is lamb chops.
MG: Wow, that is advanced.
CJ: I love lamb chops, of course, I can make tacos, chili beans and rice, enchiladas, but I love lamb chops.
MG: Okay! Of course, you have had to travel a lot for your sport, where is your most favorite place that you have been?
CJ: My favorite place would have to be Monte Carlo. Monte Carlo is like the Jay-Z Big Pimpin video, it is lavish, it is like Beverly Hills times 10. They have amazing lamb chops.
MG: Which is important.
CJ: They have the casino from the 007 movie. I just love the atmosphere, I love the energy. I love going to Monte Carlo.
MG: The taste I have of that place is that old Selena Gomez movie, Monte Carlo. Is there someplace on your bucket list that you want to go but haven't yet?
CJ: Yes, so I have always wanted to go to Zimbabwe or a place in Africa where I can go on a real safari and then go to some villages and help the families. That is on my bucket list; go to Africa and really be hands-on.
MG: That's great and now you have a summer break!
CJ: Well this summer I didn't have much time, I took two classes because I am getting my masters so that was a little overwhelming. I graduate in May 2020 and I will actually be a bear!
CJ: I will graduate with a professional masters with a study in sports management, so once I am done with school I will take one of those amazing trips.
MG: What is some advice that you have for a college freshman? I know that you were at convocation and said some stuff but is there anything specifically for the freshman?
CJ: The number one thing that I think could help a freshman is don't be so hard on yourself. I just feel like freshman are so hard on themselves because they are so used to how high school was.
They think that they have to be popular or that every test has to be 100, or 'if I am not doing this I am not going to make it'. The whole process of being a freshman in the process of failing and regrouping. The rest of the year will not go down the drain because of one test. Don't be so hard on yourself.
MG: I wish I had you when I was a freshman because I definitely had that mindset that I had to be perfect. And you are about to graduate, I am about to graduate, what is some advice that you have for seniors?
CJ: Oh gosh. Definitely the advice that I would give to a graduating senior is don't sell yourself short. Don't just take the first thing just to take it. Know your worth, know exactly what you want to do.
Don't spend four years in college and go get a job that has nothing to do with your life. Don't be okay with settling. If it is a situation where you have to take something, for now, don't get stuck there.
Have a goal that you will work there for eight months then move on. If you wait for something to come along, something will never come along. Be okay with giving yourself a time limit; kind of like being in a relationship and after two years if he or she isn't ready to take the next step then you go your two separate ways.
It is the same thing as when you find a job that you don't really want. Ask yourself, are we growing? Are we moving? What is the end goal? Jobs are just like relationships.
MG: Lastly, what is your favorite part about being a bear?
CJ: My favorite part about being a bear is I can walk through campus and students acknowledge me. I can walk through anywhere and they will stop and say 'Hey Coach Jet' and I can walk through campus and it could be someone that I know is not even an athlete and they will still say hi. The best part about being a bear is that I am actually acknowledged.
MG: I love Missouri State and I am a University Ambassador which means I give tours and that is a question I get a lot from parents. Why did I pick Missouri State? Why do I like Missouri State? It is so hard because I like everything about it. It's not *Mizzou* but I didn't want to go there, this was my number one choice.
I love everything about this campus; especially how our professors, coaches like you, and Clif Smart interact with the students is something that I haven't seen from any other university. It makes you feel at home here.
We ended our interview with a little bit of small chatter and a hug. Definitely go check out Coach Jet on Instagram and Twitter and go see her team run at the Missouri State meets.