USC

Allyson Felix speaks on her hopes for the legacy of her namesake track field

“I hope it’s a place where people come and they get to train and run and where excellence happens and people pursue greatness. But I also hope that it’s much bigger than that,” Felix said.

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Despite competing in 5 Olympic Games, earning Olympic 11 medals, and becoming the most decorated track athlete in U.S. history – USC’s plan to rename its track field in her honor still came as a shock to Allyson Felix.

In an interview with Annenberg Media and the Daily Trojan Monday, Felix said that she hopes the field is a place where athletes, especially athletes of color and women whom she has advocated for, can succeed and feel like they belong at USC.

“I hope it’s a place where people come and they get to train and run and where excellence happens and people pursue greatness. But I also hope that it’s much bigger than that,” Felix said. “I hope that there’s an understanding of my origin story and pushing for change and being an advocate for women. And I hope that the next generation [of athletes] just goes from there and continues to take it and grow and just reach for the stars.”

While most buildings and monuments around campus are named for USC founders and donors, Felix earned this honor through her athletic excellence and advocacy work. Felix notably refused to renegotiate her contract with Nike when they planned to cut her contract by 70% after she gave birth to her daughter. Felix has since signed with Athleta, started her own brand Saysh and continues to advocate for female athletes. While her initial fight for maternal protections was a long, hard slog, Felix has no plans to give up any time soon.

“I think going down that path has just show[n] me how much more work there is to do, and so now I’ve really shifted my attention to child care and the need for that,” Felix said. “But just wanting to expand on that – my dream is for that to just be the standard, where you don’t even think twice about it. So, just finding different ways to advocate for women and to make things easier so they don’t have to make these very tough decisions.”

The track field is the latest USC structure to be stripped of its controversial name, following the renaming of what is now the Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow Center for International and Public Affairs last year. Though other controversial monuments still stand on campus, Felix said she feels happy and thankful that USC is renaming the on-campus monuments so that “history doesn’t repeat itself.”

“When I had the conversation with President Folt, I think the thing that really stuck out to me was that USC is going through this process of renaming these buildings that need to be renamed,” Felix said. “And obviously it’s an honor, but to me, it’s really more. I feel grateful that we’re thinking about … the ideals that we’re wanting students to look to, that’s a part of the process as well.”

Growing up in Los Angeles and having family members that attended USC, Felix remained conscious of the university’s legacy years before she herself became a Trojan. Now that USC is facing the history behind its campus’s controversial namesakes, she expressed excitement for the university’s bright future and the legacy of Allyson Felix Field.

As for the athletes that will make use of it, Felix encouraged them to shoot for greatness not just on the field, but off of it.

“Obviously, student athletes are at the school to get a great education and also to fulfill their potential in sports. But I think that what we’re seeing right now for athletes is that we’re interested in what they have to say and what they think on other things as well,” Felix said. “And so I hope that they feel empowered, that their opinions matter on a vast array of things, and that they can weigh in and also understand the weight of their platform as well.”