Third grade teacher from Omaha competes in master's track & field

Posted at 6:50 PM, Mar 11, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-11 19:50:26-04

OMAHA (KMTV) — Tonya Gordon is a third grade teacher in Omaha and a master’s track and field athlete preparing to compete at USATF Masters Indoor Championships later in March.

● Tonya Gordon has two passions: track and field and teaching.
● She’s been training as an athlete for almost 40 years.
● Gordon uses lessons she’s learned on the track as a way to help her students in the classroom.


“I’ll be thinking ‘push, push push,” Gordon said. “It’s mainly just ‘pop’ and go.”

It’s hard to keep Tonya Gordon away from the track.

She’s competed in jumps since elementary school.

“I’ve loved jumping and seeing how high a vertical I had and how… if I could beat the boys,” Gordon said. “That was something that really drove me too growing up, was if I could jump further than them or higher than them.”

That drive stayed with her through college at South Dakota.

“I love competing, and I also love meeting the new people and camaraderie that we get,” she said. “And I had that as a heptathlete in college. It was you against yourself.”

And now at 45, she’s still her own biggest competitor.

“As a masters athlete you’re doing the best you can with your body at the place it’s at in life,” Gordon said.

By day, she’s a third grade teacher at Westgate Elementary School.

“I knew it at a young age,” Gordon said. “I wanted to be working with kids, wanted to be working in the schools and teaching them.”

Now, teaching and jumping are clearly vastly different, but Gordon found a way to bring lessons from the pit into the classroom.

“I carry a lot in with the responsibility piece and just having that self-discipline and that focus,” she said. “We talk about setting goals for our reading and for our math skills. I talk to them a lot about how you practice is how you perform.”

Even after almost 40 years in track and field, Gordon is still a student of the sport.

“Things don’t always go how you plan, and whether that’s competition-wise or practice-wise, just knowing that that’s one day,” she said. “I can come back and do better the next day. And learning to let go of that and just persevere over any kind of challenge.”

And she doesn’t plan on hanging up her spikes anytime soon.

“I’m gonna keep on moving until my body tells me I need to stop," Gordon said.