GBI Magazine

Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 26, Digital 5

Gold and Black is a multi-platform media company that covers Purdue athletics like no one else.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 82 of 92

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED OLUME 26, ISSUE 5 83 BY KYLE CHARTERS A couple years ago, Brionna Thomas called friend Symone Black to tell her she wasn't going to be joining her at Purdue. It'd be Kansas State instead. The two, teammates for the summer track club Fort Wayne Express, wouldn't be reuniting in West Lafayette. "It was a bummer," Black said. It was also a prank. The longtime friends — the relationship works because Thomas likes to joke and Black likes to laugh — became Boilermakers, and good ones. Only midway through their sophomore seasons, they are already Big Ten champions in their respective specialties and conference gold medal- ists as teammates in the 4x400-meter relay. But few could have predicted their reunion at Purdue. Neither had Purdue on her recruiting radar, let alone en- tertained a notion that they could become interested. But little did they know the Boilermaker coaching staff was de- veloping plans to get their attention. "We knew they were both very talented," said fourth- year track and field coach Lonnie Greene, who was still in the early stages of rebuilding Purdue's program when he started recruiting the Fort Wayne natives. "The question was whether or not we could keep them home, because all the rumors had it that they were looking at other schools, and they were. "… But it just worked out." ENEMY TERRITORY Symone Black grew up a Hoosier fan. She was raised as one as the daughter of a couple Indi- ana fans, with her older sister, Mariah, attending the uni- versity now. The Concordia High School graduate might not have ended up running track in Bloomington — Ohio State was high on her list — but rival Purdue was a non-starter. It didn't help that the Boilermaker track program had been in the doldrums for years. "I didn't like Purdue," Symone Black says now, as a sophomore in West Lafayette who is decked out in gold and black. "… Especially the track team because I didn't think the track team was that good. I didn't even know any- thing about Purdue's track program." This is what Greene walked into when he visited the Black household a couple years ago. He felt Mark Black's skepticism; negative vibes were just radiating off him. "I remember it clearly, as vividly as I could," Greene said. "Of any of the visits I've ever been on — and I've been on some tough visits where you're trying to break the ice and mom and dad already have their minds made up and are like, 'Why are you even here?' "And her dad said, 'Man, I had to take off (work) to lis- ten to Purdue. For what?' … So he came in and sat there. He was just giving me that father look when you're trying to date his daughter, like, 'I'm going to shoot you in the head if you make her cry.' But we talked and talked and at the end, he said, 'You know, I had heard so many negative things about what's going on at Purdue, with track and field, but just sitting here, you all really changed my mind. The only thing we have next to do is come to campus and visit.'" The visit sealed it, but Symone Black was likely sold "Those two have really blessed this program. They really have allowed us to establish our reputation within the state of Indiana." Coach Lonnie Greene

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of GBI Magazine - Gold and Black Illustrated, Vol 26, Digital 5