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Forward Motion, Olivia Womack, 2024 Female Winner

Olivia Womack

University of Mississippi
Year: Senior
Major: Legal Studies

Outdoor track & field season brought University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) sprinter Olivia Womack to the realization that every moment counts. The 2024 Arthur Ashe Jr. Female Sports Scholar is bound for law school in the fall. So, these will be her final meets. She expects to attend the University of Mississippi School of Law, because she is impressed with the social justice mission of its legal clinics. 

A legal studies major with a minor in gender studies, Womack grew up in Mississippi, and chose to stay in her home state for college because of the university’s law school. Although she has more collegiate eligibility, she has already taken the LSAT exam, made her law school applications, been accepted, and is ready to move into her future. Her goal is to work for the American Civil Liberties Union. 

Womack moved several times growing up, and if not for sports, she would have had an even harder time adapting. Because of that, “you get to meet a lot of people who don’t fit in,” she says. 

“Whether that be some of the queer kids or the kids who are just not like everybody else, you start to build community with them,” she says. “Seeing the way people experience injustices — whether that be sexual violence or sexual orientation or because of their immigrant status — it kind of breaks my heart, and I want to become an attorney, because I want to be able to help people who are in those troubled situations.” 

In high school, Womack’s basketball coach noticed her foot speed and suggested she try track. Thinking of how much she enjoyed watching the Olympics — her favorite sprinter is Elaine Thompson-Herah — she decided to give it a go. The track coach saw her potential and said she could probably earn an athletic scholarship, so she went all in. Not only did she quickly excel — competing in Junior Olympics sophomore year and winning the IHSAA Mississippi state title as a junior — she appreciated the supportive community. 

As a collegiate student-athlete, Womack is a three-time All-American, two-time NCAA East Region qualifier, two-time SEC Scorer, and she has run on four of the eight fastest 4x100 meter relay times at Ole Miss. 

“I love track, and I appreciate the sport,” says Womack. 

Holland Sherrer, assistant coach, sprints and hurdles, says the coaching staff and Womack’s fellow student-athletes appreciate her. 

“Whenever we’ve called upon her, she’s been there to step up,” he says. “She’s the one you can always count on. … Olivia is the one that you want on your team when the game is on the line.” 

Throughout college, Womack has been involved in community service, volunteering with literacy programs, food drives, water bottle collection, and the preparation of holiday gift baskets for families in need. She is also an advocate for marginalized individuals. 

On a more informal basis, she does her utmost to make freshmen and transfer students feel welcome when they join Mississippi’s track & field team. An avid baker, she will invite teammates to join her or coordinate an off-campus activity. She will also plan study halls to help other student-athletes stay on track academically. 

Academic counselor Kori Smith says his usual role of reminding student-athletes about deadlines and obligations was not necessary with Womack. Rather, he served as a sounding board, counselor, and advisor in preparing for law school interviews. 

“She has always been a good advocate for the student-athletes,” says Smith. “She’s a great leader. Puts forth a ton of effort and is never slacking. She’s a stand-up student for minorities and students of different backgrounds.” 

An exceptional student, Womack is annoyed with herself that she doesn’t have a 4.0 cumulative GPA. The 3.93 is due to one non-A she received as a high school student doing dual enrollment. 

Thinking long-term, Womack may pursue politics. “We can hopefully start getting some legislation off the ground that will help with a lot of issues,” she says. “Along with working with the ACLU, we can help improve women’s rights.” 

Womack will be featured in the May 2 episode of the Diverse podcast series In The Margins.     

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A New Track: Fostering Diversity and Equity in Athletics