Local Olympic Trials qualifier Alex Collatz-Sellens remains hopeful during pandemic

April 3, 2020 /

Local discus star Alex Collatz-Sellens has been preparing for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials for years. Since the 26 year old competed in the 2016 trials in discus, she has been training harder than before to perform better than ever in the 2020 trials, with the goal to make it to the 2020 Olympic games.

But since the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world, the games and the trials have been postponed, leaving Collatx-Sellens with mixed emotions. Collatz-Sellens, a fifth grade teacher at Donald E. Suburu Elementary School, was looking forward to getting another shot at the games. In 2016, she was nervous and said she felt out of place around the older professionals.

“I wasn’t really happy with my performance then, so I’ve been looking forward to these 2020 trials,” she said. “I understand they did it to keep everyone safe. It’s just disappointing.”

Collatz-Sellens placed 19th with a throw of 53.04 meters in the 2016 Olympic trials.

The Stockdale High graduate has quite the record. She is the 2010 CIF state track and field champion in the discus and later became a multi-time All-American at USC.

Collatz-Sellens comes from an athletic family and has been engaged in sports her whole life. Her parents, who were also athletes, placed both of their daughters in sport since as long as Collatz-Sellens can remember.

Her dad, Alan Collatz, has been coaching Track and Field as CSUB for 32 years. He began coaching right after he graduated from CSUB, where he was a star javelin thrower. He, too, qualified for two U.S. Olympic trials, according to the CSUB alumni association.

“When she was little she had to do five sports,” said Collatz. “When she was really little and by the time she got into high school, she had to do two sports. Both my daughters being around sports their whole lives, they really didn’t know anything else. Sports were a part of their lives. ”

Collatz-Sellens recalls when she was in fourth grade at Stockdale Christian, her father and her looked at her school’s record board of the different sports and asked each other, “Which ones do we think we can beat?”

Collatz-Sellens said her dad always told her to try her best in whatever sport she was competing in that day.

“One of the things I’m really thankful for is my dad never put these crazy lofty goals on us,” Collatz-Sellens said. “Growing up, I would never think of setting a goal, which is maybe not normally how athletes do it.”

Although Collatz-Sellens has been playing sports her whole life and excelling in them, she never imagined she would make it to the Olympic Trials.

“I never even considered the Olympics or Olympic Trials, which has made every success a surprise,” she said. 

Before the pandemic started, Collatz and Collatx-Sellens would get up early in the mornings to workout and train at the gym at 5 a.m. to prepare for the 2020 Olympic Trials.

But the gym closures haven’t stopped their momentum. They have been doing home workouts with the equipment they have at home.

Collatz-Sellens has followed in her father’s footsteps and has become a discus coach.

She said she enjoys helping students in their journey; however, finds it somewhat more nerve-racking. She said her gets nervous when her athletes compete because, at that point, there is nothing she can do and has no control over the situation.  

Hayden Garcia, 12, enjoys having her as a coach. Garcia said Collatz-Sellens is patient and allows them to have fun at practice.

His mother said she has seen a lot of improvement in Garcia over the last two and a half years of working with Collatz-Sellens and appreciates that he is able to learn from her.

While this time is tragic for all athletes, Collatz-Sellens encourages them to push through this time and stay positive. 

“This should remind us that life is not all about sports, so to kind of remember what’s important and what we value,” she told Kern Sol News. “To be thankful that we are healthy, and we have sports and just to continue to work hard until the next opportunity comes.”

JaNell Gore

Ja'Nell Gore is a student at Cal State Bakersfield. In addition to writing for Kern Sol News she is a poet who loves any chance she has to perform and be with her community.