While most CSUN students were enjoying their summer break, DaShalle Andrews was standing on the runway at Hornet Stadium in Sacramento in need of a longer jump to advance to the finals of the NCAA Men’s Division I Long Jump Championship.
It was June 6 — his birthday.
As he stared down the runway on the brink of elimination, Andrews talked to himself, sprinted toward the sandpit, then launched himself off the board and into the finals.
The next day Andrews won the cmpetition with his first jump of 25-02.50 feet (7.68) to became CSUN’s first male athlete to win a Division I championship and only the second athlete in the school’s 16-year history of Division I competition to win a national title, with Darcy Arreola being the first when she won the 1,500 meters in 1991.
“It was the best birthday gift I ever received,” Andrews said. “I was more shocked than anything when it happened, I wasn’t believing it. I was at a loss for words. My dreams had come true.”
Although Louisville sophomore Tone Belt, the indoor champion, had jumped the same distance, Andrews had a better second jump, while Belt fouled on the rest of his attempts.
Andrews said he was surprised to win. He had been pacing himself and wanted to become an All-American this year and go for the title next year.
Avery Anderson, Andrews’ coach, said the championship didn’t surprise him at all.
“It wasn’t surprising to me,” said Avery Anderson. “We were going in to win. Nationally, CSUN is not as recognized as other universities, so the expectation wasn’t there. But, I wasn’t surprised. The idea was to go in and win.”
Andrews said he respects Anderson as a person and coach and considers him to be very wise.
“Avery is a mentor for me,” Andrews said. “We have a strong relationship as a coach and athlete.”
The winning jump was not Andrews’ lifetime best. Andrews jumped 25-4.75 (7.74) to win the Big West championship in May. That was his second Big West title, the first being in 2005.
He also won the Big West title in the triple jump with his mark of 15.73 meters. Both accomplishments contributed to his being named Big West Men’s Field Athlete of the Year.
Head coach Don Strametz, who claimed Coach of the Year honors for the second consecutive season and fourth time overall for the men’s team and won his second consecutive Coach of the Year award on the women’s side and the seventh time overall, has high praise for Andrews, who said the road has been rough for him.
“He has accepted all of the challenges laid down for him — academically and injuries — and has risen to, and beaten back, every single thing that could have taken him down, to become a national champion,” said Strametz.
“Strametz is a great, great coach,” said Andrews.
Andrews detailed some of the bumps in the road, starting with two knee surgeries, one knee in 2003 and the other in 2006. He red-shirted in 2006 and although he “got a bit depressed” he didn’t think about giving up. Instead, he said it gave him time to observe competitions, giving him an advantage. Andrews also acknowledged academic problems and being homesick his first year at CSUN.
Andrews came to CSUN from Phoenix, Ariz., where he lived with his mother and attended Moon Valley High School. Andrews won the state long jump title there in 2003, was a four-letter winner in track, and was captain of the track team.
Andrews said if it wasn’t for his mother, who raised him alone, he wouldn’t be here.
“I learned to be a hard worker from her,” said Andrews. He said she also told him, “Don’t let people take your kindness for your weakness” and “Stand up for yourself.”
Andrews said that if he becomes successful, he definitely wants to give back to his mom.
Andrews said he feels he has made a place for himself here at CSUN.
“I’m glad to be a Matador. I’m happy to be here,” said Andrews.
With all of the awards and attention, however, Andrews just wants people to know that he is a good guy.
“I’m a hard-working, caring person,” said Andrews. “I enjoy life. I’m positive. I’m a good guy.”
Andrews said his way of “hyping himself up” and “getting into the zone” before competition is by listening to alternative and rock music. His favorite band is System of a Down.
Andrews sports several tattoos. His favorites are his nickname “Shell” in graffiti-style letters on one arm and “man of power” in Japanese on his other arm. Andrews said he loves to shop and has “a shoe fetish,” with his favorite shoes being Vans and Nike “Dunks.”
Andrews, a kinesiology major, said he wants to continue to jump until he is 40, and plans to be a physical education teacher and coach in the future.
“I feel it’s my calling,” he said.
Teaching will have to wait, though. Andrews’ ultimate goal is to compete in the Olympics.
“I’ve dreamed of it since I was a kid,” said Andrews. He said that if this isn’t his time for the Olympics, he’ll keep trying.
Right now he said he is just taking it day-by-day and step-by-step. His immediate plans include reclaiming his title.
Coach Anderson said Andrews could “absolutely” repeat as champion.
“He has definitely gone from a young kid to being on the brink of growing into a man,” said Anderson.” I’ve seen him grow a lot in the last couple of years, especially over the last year. He’s taking care of his business in the classroom and has become a better student. He’s coming into his own.”
Anderson said that Andrews’ rough road has made the championship a little sweeter.
“My experience is it’s never easy and he’s learned that,” said Anderson. “He was able to have a successful year. He has to work a little harder, but he’s learned that despite bumps in the road, he can still be a champion.”
After having several months off and with the indoor season not starting until January, Andrews has had plenty of time to reflect on the past season and his accomplishments.
He said he feels good about making history for the school, and although he knows it is a commuter school, he thinks he put it on the totem pole and other teams will look at CSUN differently now.
“I feel special. Very, very special and thankful,” said Andrews.
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