Husky History No. 19: Phylicia George 


Hello all, and welcome back to Husky History, a column focusing on one accomplished UConn athlete per week. Each article details the athlete’s accolades at Connecticut, as well as their ability to take their games to the professional level. This week’s Husky History focuses on women’s track and field legend Phylicia George. 

Born in 1987, George grew up in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada. From an early age, she was a true athlete, running track for Mary Ward Secondary School. She excelled in short distance running, with and without hurdles. George placed fourth overall in both the 100-meter hurdles and the 200-meter at Canada’s National Junior Championships in 2006. She earned first place overall in her age group in Ontario in the 100-meter hurdles that year as well. Because of her early successes, George caught the eye of the UConn track and field program. 

Arriving in 2006, the Husky immediately made an impact with her squad, taking home second place in a number of indoor events. In outdoor, George was a member of the 4×100-meter relay team that placed second in the Big East Championships as well. 

Across her four years at Storrs, George became a better and better athlete, turning Big East Qualifiers into NCAA Regional Qualifiers. The culmination of her success came in her senior year, the 2009-2010 season. In indoor, she earned Big East Track Athlete of the Week. At the Big East Championships, she placed third in the 60-meter hurdles, but had an even better showing at New Englands, where the star athlete took home gold in the 55-meter hurdles. George earned the crown thanks to a time of 7.69 seconds, a New England Championship record. The Canadian also earned gold at the ECAC 60-meter hurdle. 

With a historic indoor season under her belt, George was ready to tackle her final outdoor campaign. Among other things, she was a part of the 4×100-meter relay team that took home gold at the ECAC Championship thanks to a record time of 44.43 seconds. In individual events, George broke the 100-meter hurdle program record thanks to a 13.39 clocking. 

“UConn played a huge role in my development as an athlete and as a person,” said George. “My coach, Clive Terrelonge, helped to lay the foundation and gave me some of the tools for my future success… While studying for my degree in biology, I gained extensive knowledge, many life skills as well as made some lifelong friendships.” 

Having already participated in the World Junior Championships in 2006 and Canadian Olympic Trials in 2007, it was time for George to fully transition to the international level. She represented her home country first in the 2011 World Championships, where she ran the 100-meter hurdles in 17.97 seconds. This mark was good for seventh place overall. She would go on to compete in two Summer Olympic Games, London in 2012 and Rio in 2016, running the 100-meter hurdles and the 4×100-meter relay. She would place as high as fifth in those events. 

After the Rio Olympics, George was presented with an entirely new career opportunity. Canadian bobsledder Kaillie Humphries was looking for a new teammate to race with, and saw a lot of potential in the track star. 

“The idea of potentially becoming a summer and winter Olympian sparked my interest,” George admitted. “I relish any opportunity to compete for my country.” 

While it seems unlikely that the two sports are related, George enjoyed learning a new skill and applied what she learned from the outdoor track to the bobsled track. 

“There are some similarities but also a lot of differences,” explained George. “I’d say the main similarity is the fact that running is involved and being fast is a huge advantage. But it’s very different in the way that you run and create force. I had to get used to not swinging my hands while running and learning how to use my hands to transfer the force I was creating with my feet into the sled.” 

It certainly was an adjustment period for the two-sport athlete, who had to gain muscle mass to push the 363-pound sled faster. As a true competitor, George was up for the challenge. 

“… I believe in stepping outside of your comfort zone to constantly challenge yourself,” said George. “That’s the way I’ve looked at this journey through bobsled. At times it’s been scary and uncomfortable, but I’ve used it all to challenge myself to be the best athlete I can be.” 

Her hard work paid off at Pyeongchang in 2018, as George and Humphries took home bronze medals in the two-women bobsled event. While she did not participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics, the opportunity she received at Pyeongchang is one she won’t soon forget. 

Today, George is based around Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She has her degree in biology from UConn. 

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