Daisy Ogede distances herself from competition with grit, determination and dress socks
Junior Daisy Ogede of the Washington University women’s track and field team wasn’t always one of the top runners in Division III. However, a motivation to prove people wrong has fueled a competitive spirit that has enabled her to compete for national titles on a yearly basis.
“I was very competitive as a little kid. Back in middle school, I played football and I was the only girl on the football team,” Ogede said. “It was kind of weird because the thought of me being the only girl never crossed my mind—I was just very competitive and wanted to play with the boys.”
Ogede’s competitive spirit has guided her through adversity on the track, particularly during her freshman year, when various health issues impacted her training and performance for most of the season. Once healthy, though, Ogede broke through in the University Athletic Association Outdoor Championships that year with a title in the 200-meter race and all-UAA honors in four different events.
“When I got better the spring of my freshman year, I was like a kid in the candy store,” Ogede said. “I had this mindset of ‘let’s go; let’s run with everything I’ve got’ and that’s what I [have continued] to do until today.”
That UAA performance ultimately served as her springboard for future success. The next year, Ogede burst onto the scene with national runner-up finishes in the 100 and 200-meter races at the NCAA Outdoor Championships and four indoor UAA titles in the 60-meter hurdles, 100 and 200-meter races and the 1,600-meter relay.
Now, in her junior year, Ogede won those four indoor conference titles again, except this time she set the bar higher, shattering four school records and three UAA records in the process. Ogede will face her stiffest test of the year at the NCAA Indoor Championships on March 11-12 in Grinnell, Iowa, but Bears head coach Jeff Stiles believes those are the type of meets when she is at her best.
“On this campus, you would have to consider her potentially the best athlete, which is quite a statement,” Stiles said. “The moment you put the word ‘championship’ at the end of a meet, she’s ten times better. She’s a Michael Jordan. She’s a Mia Hamm. She’s a rare person within Division III track and field.”
According to assistant coach Lane Lohr, Ogede’s rise to Division III stardom didn’t come from the stat sheet. For an explanation, you’ll have to look at her intangibles.
“Her spiritual faith and faith in herself is probably the biggest difference I see in her, compared to a lot of other student athletes,” Lohr said. “She has an ability to dig down and find things that most people aren’t even looking for. She can go to places physically because of her beliefs that most people can’t go to.”
Indeed, Ogede points to her Christian faith as having a huge impact on her mindset on track and life.
“I may have a bad training day or I may get injured, but I can’t be negative. There are people who go through worse things in life and because I have the support system and privilege to do what I do, I can only thank God and do the best I can do with the talents I’ve [been] given,” Ogede said.
But to dig even deeper — to find out what really give Ogede that competitive edge — you may just have to look at what literally might give her a spring in her step.
“I like to train and compete in men’s dress socks. I don’t really know why, but ever since I started track, I just got into wearing men’s dress socks, so usually if someone sees me racing, I’m wearing ankle, Gold Toe men’s dress socks instead of the classical running socks,” Ogede said.
Hailing from Richton Park, Ill., a south suburb of Chicago, Ogede initially didn’t have Wash. U. at the top of her list, but after learning about its flexible academic curriculum, she was sold.
“I really wanted to go to John Hopkins [University]; that was my dream school for as long as I can remember,” Ogede said. “Then I visited Wash. U. and fell in love with the fact that it was one of the [types] of schools [where] I can pursue my academic goals and pursue other core interests as well. There weren’t any restraints.”
As a biology major on the neuroscience track, she plans to go to medical school and become a physician.
Her passion for women’s reproductive health has led her to volunteer for SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital, where she works at the women’s center with pregnant women post-delivery. On campus, Ogede is a Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) leader for General Chemistry—a hallmark of the Wash. U. premed experience.
“Freshman year, I was probably one of the two people to say this, but I actually really enjoyed [General Chemistry] and because of that I really wanted to be a PLTL leader,” Ogede said.
Just like on the track, Ogede has not been afraid of the challenge that becoming a doctor poses.
“Whatever she chooses to do, like the medical field is where’s she headed, get out of her way,” Stiles said. “You tell her she can’t do something; she’ll do it ten times better.”