West Los Angeles College track and field athlete Chandler Smith has been competing in sprints since an early age. At six years old, she started playing tennis but seeing her brother compete in track piqued her interest in the sport.
“Then I instantly fell in love with it,” Smith said. “It’s been track ever since then.”
Growing up, Smith was a member of the Rancho Track club which allowed her to compete in the Junior Olympics. She mentioned how her experience with the Rancho Track club is something she will not forget.
“It taught me so much at a young age, like how to work with other people and teamwork,” Smith said. “It created really strong relationships that I still have today.,”
Smith took her talents to Palisades High School where she helped the Dolphins girls’ track and field team reach the CIF State Championship for two consecutive years.
As a freshman, she reached the State meet as a member of the 4x400m relay team. She returned the next year with the 4x100m relay team. Smith noted that reaching the State championship is an achievement that she is the proudest of.
“That was a pretty big deal for me because I used to watch it on TV before I got to high school,” Smith said. “So actually being there and running on the track felt really surreal.”
Along with relays, Smith has competed in the 100m, 200m and 400m along with hurdling events and the long jump. While she was a successful athlete at Palisades, Smith also had to speak up for the needs of the Black students on campus.
“At my school it was a very small group of Black people, so we were kind of not being represented as well as other places,” she said. “It made me a stronger person and really to take things with a grain of salt.”
Smith is a business major; she was inspired to pursue business after going on a field trip to an agency in Century City during her middle school years. A Black sports marketer worked at the agency.
“I thought it was so cool seeing somebody of my color in a nice job, loves to go work everyday and I was like “that’s cool,”” she said. “I’ve always wanted to do something connected to sports since I’ve always been in sports.”
Business 101 at West L.A. was one of Smith’s favorite classes. The professor of the class made it interesting, and she was fascinated with learning about marketing.
“It helps me communicate with my parents better because they know this information already,” Smith said. “I can expand my knowledge by talking to them as well.”
Outside of Athletics and Academics, Smith enjoys drawing. Another favorite class was an Advanced Placement art class she took while in high school. Smith taught herself how to draw in the fourth grade.
“My teacher recommended me for advanced art my sophomore year,” she said. “That was more challenging than A.P. Art actually, but it was with the same teacher. It was just more drawing in advanced art.”