Hammering it Home

After Winning Gold, Track Captain Erica Belvit Has Her Sight Set on All-American

By Sarah Olender

In May 2018, the women’s track and field team won the CAA Championship, not just because of their stellar performance in events, but also because they had athletes like Erica Belvit, a sophomore at the time, running back and forth to check in and care for tired teammates. 

With some athletes participating in three or more events, it was all hands on deck to make sure everyone was hydrating, felt energized, and checked into their events on time. Belvit was making sure everyone was doing that even while she was busy pulling together her own third place performance. 

“She makes an effort to check on other [teammates],” Tramaine Shaw, head coach of the women’s track and field team, said. “She’s always willing to serve the team.”

Shaw sees Belvit, now a senior, as a leader because of her willingness to help her fellow teammates on and off the track, as seen in the 2018 CAA Championships, but to Belvit, moments like this come naturally. She enjoys helping others out, and recalls this meet as one of her favorite memories while being on the track and field team at Northeastern. 

While she forged a deep connection with her teammates, the Bloomfield, Conn., native also frequently checks in with the coaching staff and has established meaningful relationships with her coaches. Belvit’s coaches know about her strong passion for both academics, as a combined finance and a management information systems major, and athletics, where Belvit spends time talking to her coaches about her ambitious goals. 

“When I was talking to my coach about going to Jamaica, I mentioned it as a joke,” Belvit said.

She wanted to go to the Jamaican National Championships, but never realized that dream could actually become a reality. 

Until she did it.

She didn’t just go to the Jamaican National Championships either, she took home the gold in her strongest event: the hammer throw. At the time, it seemed like an unimaginable goal, but that win only seemed to humble her and make her a stronger leader, teacher and athlete for the team.

“Erica is someone who leads on and off the track,” Shaw said. “She’s really stepped into a role as a leader across the entire program these last two seasons.”

Determined, passionate and resilient, Belvit is one of the top leaders, both morally and statistically, on the team. 

“I’m more of a lead-by-example captain,” Belvit said. “One of our other captains vocalizes a lot. Me, I’m more someone who helps you out with every problem you have. I’ll talk, sit down with you, for hours. I try to tell people to do what’s best for them.”

Belvit’s teammates appreciate this, recognizing her leadership abilities and strong work ethic. 

“She has always been one of the top performers on our team,” Belvit’s teammate, roommate, and close friend, senior thrower Leeyan Redwood said. “It’s not that things come easier, it’s that her hard work shows.” 

It’s easy to watch movies like “Rocky” and “Miracle” and be inspired by the hard work that the athletes put in. It’s even more inspiring to meet an athlete like Belvit who works that hard in real life. 

“When she first came to us as a freshman, her desire to achieve was just so strong. You never have to worry about her being late or slacking off,” Shaw said.  

That hard work has paid off throughout her college athletic career. 

Belvit holds the program record for the hammer throw (62.38 meters, set in 2019), and her skills qualified her for competition even more challenging than Division 1 athletics. She qualified to compete, and ended up winning the event at the Jamaican National Championships in June 2019. 

“It was the culmination of that whole year,” Shaw said. “She showed a tremendous amount of maturity and passion. It put things into perspective and helped her recognize it was going to be a journey.”

Winning the hammer throw event at the Jamaican National Championships definitely was a notable moment in her track career, but it didn’t come without a lot of resilience. 

Athletes like Belvit, who put in the hours of training and end up finding success, can often appear fearless, but self-doubt is a challenge for all athletes, and when competing on a national level, there is no room for it. So Belvit pushes through.

“I had to get out of my head,” Belvit said. “Everyone gets nervous, but when you get on the national level, it doesn’t matter if there’s 5000 or 500 people in the stadium, you feel different. There is no room for that doubt, that second guessing. I had to learn how to do that in all the meets prior to that.”

Even with the gold medal in hand, Belvit was only seeded 24th at the NCAA Preliminary Round later in 2019. Because she wasn’t expected to do as well as some of her competitors, she said that she didn’t feel as much pressure. Instead of self-doubt, she had something else in the back of her mind: self-confidence.

“Everyone wants to do well, but I didn’t come here saying ‘I’m going to nationals,’ I came here saying ‘I’m going to do my best,’” Belvit said. “I had to look at what I have, what I have to do, trust what I’ve done, and just go.”

In that meet, Belvit ended up moving up 11 spots, all the way to 13th for the hammer throw. However, only the top 12 seeds moved on to nationals. After coming agonizingly close, Belvit was looking forward to climbing over one last hurdle and earning a top 12 spot. Although her plans have been postponed due to COVID-19, Redwood knows that Belvit will find a way. 

“She overcomes,” Redwood said. “Obstacles are always thrown our way. Our throwing event is a metaphor, we take the difficult things in our life and throw them away from us.”

While Belvit’s fourth season was cancelled, a recent NCAA ruling will give senior track athletes another opportunity to compete in the outdoor season next year. After recognizing how much she loved competing on an international level, Belvit is going to use the time off from Northeastern to continue training for her final outdoor season. She will keep up on her training so that she can continue smashing through the goals she set for herself. 

“I want to be an All-American. I also want to make the Olympic Trials and I want to go to the Olympics,” Belvit said. 

Even though Belvit has made significant strides on the field, conquered goal after goal and dominated in her throwing events, her biggest accomplishment isn’t a trophy or award, and oftentimes she doesn’t measure success with a win. 

“My biggest accomplishment is getting through all the seasons and saying ‘that’s not enough,’” Belvit said. “I’m always looking for what’s next.”