Originally from Oxford, Mississippi, Shelby McEwen began as a basketball player at Northwest Mississippi Community College. Along the way, he realized his growing passion for track and field, particularly when it came to high jump. 

After enrolling as a student-athlete at the University of Alabama, he became a First Team All-American, SEC champion, and First Team All-SEC for both indoor and outdoor high jump. 

He is now an alumni with big plans for his future. In 2019, he signed a pro contract with the goal of taking his talents to the Olympics after making the world team. 

In this Q&A, McEwen offers insights into his background, inspirations, future goals and so much more.

Q: When did you first begin competing in track & field? 

A: I started track & field my sophomore year of high school. 

Q: What event(s) do you compete in? 

A: I competed in High Jump, Long Jump, and 300 Hurdles in high school. But, I strictly compete in High Jump now. 

Q: Who was your biggest supporter growing up? 

A: My parents were my biggest supporters. They were at every game and track meet. I can count on one hand how many competitions they missed, if they missed any.

Q: When did you realize track & field was something you wanted to do for a career? 

A: After my two years of playing junior college (juco) basketball, I started jumping at track meets unattached to a team. I was beating college competitors even though I had no training or coach at the time. I knew then I wanted to further my career in track and field. 

Q: How did you work to become a better athlete? 

A: I did the right things on and off the track. Rest is key to a good performance. I also focused on the small things to be successful when the big track meets and other things came. I’ve always been open to fixing things in my track and field event to make me better as an athlete and person. 

Q: Who are your role models and sources of inspiration? 

A: I would most definitely say my mom. She motivates and pushes me to be great at everything I do. Mom always tells it how it is. She lets me know if I’m complaining and making excuses. She just can talk to me in general about whatever. 

Q: Do you have any particular song(s) you play to get hype before your events? 

A: I don’t really listen to music before competing, but if I do I’ll listen to Lil Durk, Meek Mill, and some gospel music. 

Q: What goals do you have moving into the future? 

A: Moving into the future, I have goals of opening my own business with my clothing brand, Superior Marks, which is currently going pretty good. Another goal is making the 2021 Olympic team, winning a medal at the Olympics, and winning other major championships in the future! 

Q: What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far? 

A: The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to always work hard and never give up on your dream. It’s left up to you to go and make it happen. Relax, have fun, and there’s no pressure. The older you become the more mature and wiser you get. 

Q: Is there anything else you would like people to know about you? 

A: Basketball was my first love. In 2014, I was the champion of Michael Jordan’s First to Fly High School Dunk Contest.