Mother runner: Vanessa Aniteye is parenting a toddler while also setting track records
ATHLETE. STUDENT. WIFE. MOM.
It’s a lot to keep in balance, but Seattle Pacific track star Vanessa Aniteye is thankful for every moment of it.
“It’s definitely not easy. I have a lot on my plate,” said Aniteye (pronounced ANN-ih-tay). “But I have a great support system that reminds me of all the things I’m doing.”
Aniteye never plays all of her roles at the same time, but by cherishing each role, she has found a way to balance being a loving mother and wife, a successful student, and one of the speediest track runners in the country.
“There’s always people who ask, ‘How can you do this? I don’t know how you do it.’ Same thing for my coaches. They are aware that I’m not just a student-athlete.”
“It’s kind of outdoing yourself and seeing what you can do,” Aniteye added. “We’re moms, but we’re more than that.”
Aniteye proved that on the outdoor oval last spring, not just once or twice. She broke the school record in the 400-meter dash three times. The last record was on May 28 when she clocked 53.64 seconds to take sixth place and earn an All-American award at the NCAA Division II outdoor championships in Allendale, Michigan.
That made her the first-ever Falcon woman to beat 54 seconds.
Just two weeks earlier, she won her fourth straight Great Northwest Athletic Conference crown in the 400-meter.
That same day across the Cascade Mountains in Ellensburg, she also ran the 4-by-100 relay that set a school record, an overall GNAC record, and a GNAC meet record.
Falcons by the numbers
Number of Top 25 national teams the Falcons played preseason in volleyball this fall
Returning All-West Region athletes across SPU’s 10 sports programs
Falcons who carried a GPA of 3.85 or higher to earn GNAC Faculty Athletic Representative Scholar-Athlete Awards
All of this came two years after the birth of her son, Josiah, in May 2020. Prior to her pregnancy, Aniteye competed at University of Alaska Anchorage from 2017 to 2019.
“In the year after I had Josiah, I was practicing on my own. Going back into college sports where I practice every single day has really helped me to just be consistent and kind of get back to myself,” Aniteye said. “My body has done it before, it can do it again. Maybe, even more.”
Aniteye, who met husband Brandon Nicholson while both were competing at Alaska Anchorage, joined the Falcons in the fall of 2021, with one season of outdoor eligibility and one season of indoor eligibility remaining. She ran cross country for the first time this fall, and she’ll compete indoors starting in January.
“She told me that track had done a lot for her in her life, and she wasn’t ready to be done with it,” said Karl Lerum, SPU’s head coach and running program director. “I’m always excited to have diverse perspectives on our team, and she brings many different perspectives that I value. She’s a mom. She grew up in Germany and has international experience. And she has been an exceptional runner for a long time.”
“It’s exciting to get to work with an athlete of her caliber,” he said.
Running is important to her, but Josiah and Brandon are her biggest blessings.
“I feel like I have a deeper purpose than I used to before,” Aniteye said. “I love track. It’s one of the main things I care about.”
“But,” she added, “at the end of the day, Josiah is my number one priority. I care about him the most, and coming home [after school or practice] kind of reminds me of that.”
Photo by Marissa Lordahl