Tina Peters excels in the classroom and on the track
Halfway through her sophomore year, Tina Peters
(Yellow Springs, Ohio) already owned three NAIA
National Championships in three attempts – two
indoor and one outdoor.
At the end of March, Tina competed in her first
20-kilometer event – the distance for Olympic
competition. She finished 14th, just minutes off
qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Trials.
It all may seem like a fairy tale: a young athlete in
a relatively obscure sport, from a small Ohio town,
has big dreams of competing at the international
level. But go back 15 years and you will learn how a
very young Tina and the Peters’ family were drawn to
the sport they love.
Vince, Tina’s father (then a track and field coach
at Yellow Springs High School), used race walking
to turn an ailing young athlete into an All-American.
When Vince became the race walking coach at nearby
Cedarville University, Tina latched onto the sport,
tagging along with her dad to practices and meets.
“It’s as difficult, if not more, than running,” Peters
said, explaining the sport’s two basic rules, “One foot
must be touching the ground at all times and the leg
that is touching the ground must stay straight until
it’s directly under the walker.”
Tina was part of the junior Olympic program from
age 7 until she turned 18. That meant taking part in
USA track and field clinics, traveling to meets and
constant coaching from her father.
So how does a top race walker end up at Goshen
College, which had never fielded a competitor
in the event before Peters? Realizing that NCAA
institutions do not field race walking, Peters wanted
an opportunity to compete in college, while pursuing
a strong physics program.
In Peters’ junior year of high school, she was
allowed to compete in a 3K event – the NAIA race
distance – at Findlay (Ohio) University. At the meet
was Goshen College assistant coach Doug Yoder,
who was immediately impressed.
Doug and Rick Clark, head track and field coach,
were enthusiastic about the idea of Peters attending
It didn’t take Peters long to make a big impact.
Her first collegiate meet brought her right back to
Findlay, where she easily won the 3K race again and
shattered the qualifying mark for NAIA Nationals by
“Rick and Doug have been really supportive and
flexible,” said Peters of her coaches’ willingness to
allow her to travel and compete in non-collegiate
events, such as the Millrose Games in 2007 and
potential Olympic qualifiers.
That support has paid off for the coaches and the
GC track and field program. At the 2007 NAIA Indoor
National Championships, Peters and Petrana Petkova
won a pair of national titles and propelled the Maple
Leafs to a then program-record 11th-place finish.
Two months later, Peters took her first outdoor
title as she walked to another national championship
in Fresno, Calif. This time, Peters and her teammates
finished eighth, which marked the first time Goshen
had ever finished in the top 10 at any national event.
“My teammates are the best motivation for me,”
said Peters. “It is impossible (to be successful) if you
try and do it by yourself. Your teammates are there to
cheer you on and help pick you up when you have a
Rough days have been few and far between for
When she defended her indoor title in March, she
became the first GC athlete to hold three national
titles and helped the Leafs to a third straight top-20
finish at the national event. She earned her fourth
NAIA All-American honor by placing third in the 3K
race at the outdoor championships in May. And she
still has two more years left to shatter records.
And off the track, Peters has also been making
an impact in campus life, making the Dean’s List,
singing in the Women’s World Music Choir and
helping to lead the Catholic Student Association.