Intrinsic Drive®

I Can I Must I Will with Three-Time Olympic Medalist DeeDee Trotter

January 04, 2023 Phil Wharton - Wharton Health Season 4 Episode 9
Intrinsic Drive®
I Can I Must I Will with Three-Time Olympic Medalist DeeDee Trotter
Show Notes Transcript

Three-time Olympic Medalist, DeeDee Trotter has been a fierce competitor since the age of ten. She loved basketball and dreamed of playing for legendary coach Pat Summit at the University of Tennessee. Her quickness on the court convinced her coaches to steer their star athlete into track and field. Thus began a tenuous, and oftentimes inharmonious relationship between DeeDee and these two sports, her heart firmly fixed on basketball.

Reluctantly, she became the Georgia state indoor track champion, setting a state record in the 200-meter dash.  She accepted a track scholarship at the University of Tennessee with the understanding that she would be able to do both sports, but it did not work out that way, much to her disappointment.  

In the midst of this disillusionment, DeeDee continued to improve on the track, winning numerous titles – including a gold medal at the World Track and Field Championships while on the 400-meter relay for team USA – all the while still having to be convinced, coaxed, and – sometimes – tricked into - running.  However, her success continued, and she became the first female athlete to receive a professional contract while still in college.

She traveled the world, and competed internationally pursuing her professional career.  During the fall training for the 2008 Olympic trials, she suffered what should have been a career-ending injury. But through hours of grueling rehabilitation, and the tireless dedication of her healthcare team, she solidified her spot on her second Olympic team, in the Beijing Summer Games. Over the next three years, she continued to struggle to find her way back - losing races, confidence, money, and sponsors—but she kept believing.

 In the year before the 2012 Olympics, she began to create a blueprint, a roadmap to chart her daily progress. Through this process she created new neural associations, speaking over the pain, negativity, and loss of the previous three years. DeeDee was named the “glitter-faced warrior,” by the track fans at the 2012 London Olympics, winning bronze, and gold medals in the 400-meter run, and 400-meter relays. 

Today DeeDee is showing no signs of slowing down, she is an international motivational speaker, master of mental performance training, and recent graduate of the Atlanta Art Institute with a degree as a Baker and Pastry Chef, realizing another childhood dream of becoming a professional pastry chef. Her delicious creations can be found at her Taste of Gold Bakery, “where greatness has a taste.” It was my pleasure to host this inspirational and purposeful superstar on this episode of Intrinsic Drive  ®.

Intrinsic Drive ®  is produced by Ellen Strickler and Phil Wharton and Andrew Hollingworth  is sound editor and engineer. 


Phil Wharton (00:00:00): 

A lifetime of training, practice, study hard work through discipline, some achieve excellence, mastery, fulfillment, self-actualization. What can we learn from their beginnings, discoveries, motivations, and falls? How do they dust themselves off and resume their journey? During these interviews, stories and conversations, we reveal their intrinsic drive. 


Three time Olympic medalist Dei Trotter has been a fierce competitor since the age of 10. She loved basketball and dreamed of playing for legendary Coach Pat Summit at the University of Tennessee. Her quickness on the court convinced her coaches to steer their star athlete into track and field. Thus began a tenuous and oftentimes inharmonious relationship between DeeDee and these two sports. Her heart firmly fixed on basketball. Reluctantly she became the Georgia State indoor track champion, setting a state record in the 200 meter dash. She accepted a track scholarship at the University of Tennessee with the understanding that she would be able to do both sports, but it didn't work out that way much to her disappointment. In the midst of this disillusionment, DeeDee continued to improve on the track, winning numerous titles, including a gold medal at the World Track and Field Championships, while on the 400 meter relay for Team USA, all the while still having to be convinced, coaxed and sometimes tricked into running. 


However, her successes continued and she became the first female athlete to receive a professional contract while still in college. She traveled the world and competed internationally pursuing her professional career. But during the fall training for the 2008 Olympic trials, she suffered what should have been a career ending injury. But through hours of grueling rehabilitation and the tireless dedication of her healthcare team, she solidified her spot on her second Olympic team in the Beijing summer games. Over the next three years, struggling to find her way back, losing races, confidence, money, and sponsors she kept believing. In the year before the 2012 Olympics, she began to create a blueprint, a roadmap to chart her daily progress. Through this process, she created new neural associations speaking over the pain, negativity, and loss of the previous three years. DeeDee was named the glitter faced warrior by the track fans at the 2012 London Olympics winning bronze and gold medals and the 400 meter run and the 400 meter relays. 


Today, DeeDee is showing no signs of slowing down. She is an international motivational speaker, master of mental performance training and recent graduate of the Atlanta Art Institute with a degree as a baker and pastry chef, realizing another childhood dream of becoming a professional pastry chef. Her delicious creations can be found at her Taste, of Gold Bakery, where greatness has a taste. It was my pleasure to host this inspirational and purposeful superstar on this episode of Intrinsic Drive. DeeDee, thanks so much for coming to Intrinsic Drive. It's such an honor and a blessing to have you. Let's go to your genesis. Take us to the beginning of your journey. Was it as a young girl wanting to be a basketball player for Pat Summit at Tennessee? Or what were those original messages you were getting? 

DeeDee Trotter (00:03:47): 

<laugh>. Oh man. So when I was, I think to go literally to the beginning, I was always a very athletic kid. Although I did not originally participate in any sports until I was like 10 years old. So at Field day, first grade, second grade, I was just out there killing it. <laugh> just a little maniac. I imagine I was so competitive. We would, there used to be recess at school. I don't know what happened to it, but I know there used to be recess and we go out for 15, 20 minutes of recess and we play these games and 

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sometimes it was organized games, sometimes it wasn't. But no matter the game, I was always like, let's go. All in <laugh>, I'm going to beat you. I'm going to beat you. You and who used to play this game where you run around what I think were bars for disabled kids to play on 


And we used to use those to jump over and chase each other. And the idea is to obviously catch up with the other person and tag their wrists. And if you tag their wrist, the next person comes in line and then you just keep going until you get out. And I used to dominate this game. I mean, everyone was like, oh man, I don't wanna go against her. But there is a line on both sides and we just go all the whole time and I'm just like, who's next? So I really can literally reference back to second grade. And I was really just a young maniac when it came to a competitive spirit and just really having a athleticism that I didn't even really comprehend at the time, cuz I wasn't applying it to sports directly or organized sports, I should say. Just really just playing around. And it wasn't until I moved to Arizona, I mean moved to Georgia. My mom and dad were both from Phoenix. 

Phil Wharton (00:05:45): Okay. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:05:45): 

And when my mom and dad got divorced, we moved to Georgia. And that really is what kind of set the organized sports into motion for me here in Georgia and Atlanta, the metro Atlanta area specifically organized sports is a really big deal. And you organize youth sports, it's just crazy. Everyone, every family, every kid is like, if you're not doing it, what is your kid doing? Basically <laugh>. 

Phil Wharton (00:06:15): Okay. Yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:06:18): 

That's how I got involved. And the very first sport I ever played was basketball. And I met my best friend, her name is Danielle Merrit. Danielle's dad introduced me to, he was the coach of our team, and the very first team I played for was a Georgia Tech the kids version. All right. I had no idea what I was doing, but again, I was just pretty athletic. And he taught me the game of basketball and he broke it down. He's an excellent coach, his son was a college basketball player and set records at Shorter University. And he really put, planted the seed that sparked into a whole lifetime of athleticism and athletics basically. And Danielle and I are still best friends today, so it's just a long, many, many, many years later. 

Phil Wharton (00:07:21): Amazing. Yeah, 

DeeDee Trotter (00:07:21): 

It's a wonderful blessing. And so Uncle Johnny used to take me and Danielle and our little basketball team to the University of Tennessee every season to play in a youth tournament there. So we would play in Stokely on the practice courts for the Lady Vols. And obviously that's how I became obsessed. 

Phil Wharton (00:07:44): 

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Okay. That was the early inspiration. I got it. That makes total sense. 


But they were always telling you how fast you were. I noticed that from the references and say, look, I just wanted to be a basketball player. That's all I want. But hey, they're saying, seeing all these coaches and mentors and saying, Hey, but you're so fast. So that was early on, that was identified with in you, wasn't it? 

DeeDee Trotter (00:08:08): 

Yeah, I mean, literally from the time I walked onto the court with Uncle Johnny and Danielle, there was a instant, oh my gosh, you're so fast. And that's really one of the most threatening components of my basketball game is that I was just so fast defensively, offensively, I was really, really hard to match. And I was a skilled basketball player. He taught me to be a pretty decent ball player. So I be, because of how quick I was on the court, every team we ever played, every coach we ever ran into said, whoa, that girl is fast. She should run track. 

Phil Wharton (00:08:45): Okay, that's where. Yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:08:46):
 I ignored all of those ridiculous comments until 

Phil Wharton (00:08:51): Right. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:08:52): 

I thought that was crazy. I wanted nothing to do with outdoor sports. I was very adamant about playing basketball. I was in love with basketball to a level of loyalty and I was like, nah, if I run track, I'll run in high school. And I just kept pushing it off. But then as you go on, as you get older your middle school, you have your field day, you have your middle school teams and you know, start to get involved in these things, even if it's on a micro level. And the more exposure that I had in basketball, the more people kept saying, you should run track. Cuz I mean, when you see me on the court, it's like a bolt of lightning indoors. It's crazy. 

Phil Wharton (00:09:32): That's right. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:09:34):
 So it looks really crazy on a basketball court because most basketball players in a high school arena 

aren't going to be as fast as I was. So it looks really, 

Phil Wharton (00:09:45): Yeah, it looks like 

DeeDee Trotter (00:09:46): 

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Phil Wharton (00:09:47):
 Flashing very disproportionate I would imagine. <laugh>. Really. Yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:09:52): 

So with that being the case, I true to my word, I did wait till high school to get involved in track and field. Other than that, I ran a little bit of the team stuff at the middle school level and things like that, but I just wasn't interested in running track. I waited till high school, didn't run until I was 15. 

Phil Wharton (00:10:13): Until you're 15 

DeeDee Trotter (00:10:15): And 

Phil Wharton (00:10:16):
 Wow. So you were like a sophomore maybe in high school when you 

DeeDee Trotter (00:10:19): 

No, I was a freshman When you Freshman I was freshman, yeah, freshman year. My birthday's in December, so that's why I, I'm always on the back end. I didn't start earlier. So I was freshman in high school and I said, true to my word, I said, I'll run it when I get to high school, and that's what I did. And I did start the youth track scene because I met a couple of friends who were running what we call summer track, and I don't know if there's an official title for that. We call it, I think they call it AAU track and field and 

Phil Wharton (00:10:54):
 Junior Olympics and stuff. Yeah, 

DeeDee Trotter (00:10:56):
 Yeah, yeah. Exactly. And I was really never into that world. So a lot of the, it just went right over my 

head. I was just participating and not really getting in on the skinny of it. 


And I got involved with that, which introduced me to a couple of other two people I'm still best friends with today. But ultimately I just wasn't, didn't love it. Yeah. I was in love with basketball and I just was, like I said, I had a really dead set loyalty to it. And so I ran to be competitive and it made me a versatile athlete. It made me at that point I was doing three sports. I was doing cheer during football, track during track season, and basketball during basketball season. And I did the summer track two years. And I was like, oh no, this is not my life. I do not like being outside from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM Right. And so 

Phil Wharton (00:11:51):
 It's just conditioning at that point It was just conditioning. But it wasn't where your heart was. I got it. 

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Oh, it was not conditioning, it was 

Phil Wharton (00:11:58):
 Friends. It was not even conditioning. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:11:59): My friends 

Phil Wharton (00:12:00): Got it. It ok. Even better. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:12:03):
 Two of my best friends were running track and I couldn't spend time with them unless I was on the 

team. So I joined the team to do it with them. 

Phil Wharton (00:12:09): Amazing, amazing. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:12:11): 

And then when the summer was over they're actually a year older than me, both Verica and Henrietta they are a year older than me. So they went on to college and then basically that meant I didn't have to run summer track anymore. So I did not literally <laugh>. 

Phil Wharton (00:12:28): Okay. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:12:30): As soon as they left, I was like 

Phil Wharton (00:12:32): You were out, I'm out 

DeeDee Trotter (00:12:33): It's over 

Phil Wharton (00:12:33): I'm out. Yeah. <laugh> 

DeeDee Trotter (00:12:35):
 So I did it for the three seasons, they were there. I did summer track, those three go rounds, and then I 

stopped and I went back to basketball. That was it. So I did run track and I did grow fond of it on some 

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level. I was the state champion indoor, and outdoor state champion. And I did well. I did well in track 

and field. It was just very natural for me. 

Phil Wharton (00:13:04): 

And what year was that? I'm sort of seeing an ascent here where you're coming up and you're rising in a new craft that you don't even want to be your craft, but Yeah, not yet. And what year, what was that your junior year or your senior year when you won state for the first time in Georgia? 

DeeDee Trotter (00:13:22):
 I was state champion in the 200m. Okay. In 2001. 

Phil Wharton (00:13:30): Okay. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:13:32):
 And I believe I, what year did I win the indoor title? I set the indoor in the 200m. I set the indoor record 

Georgia Indoor record and I won. And that was also 2001. 

Phil Wharton (00:13:48): 

Okay. So did you start to enjoy it a little more? Did you see it as a passion? Not quite yet. When was the turning point when you sort of felt like, okay, this is for me. Or was there ever one that just kind of came in when you came into track? Was it by your senior year or when was that shift? 

DeeDee Trotter (00:14:13):
 I was probably closer to 30 years old. Oh wow. Okay. 

Phil Wharton (00:14:17): Oh wow. Okay 

DeeDee Trotter (00:14:18):
 I saw it. I literally saw it as when I was in high school and when I was in my early years of college, I saw 

track and field as a responsibility. 

Phil Wharton (00:14:29): Got it. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:14:30): 

And I also saw it as a obligation. Now the obligations and the responsibilities have two sides. There's a spiritual side and then there's an actual side. So the spiritual side was, I felt that God had given me a gift and a talent that was undeniable. And being a preacher's kid, and growing up in the church and just having this sense of moral having a spiritual moral compass, I felt a very hard pull to make sure I honored God with the gift that he gave me. Because I felt if he gave it to me, it was for a reason. And I didn't know what that would ever equate to. I didn't know what the purpose of it was for me, but I knew that if it was this dominant and this something that I really didn't have it just was natural for me. So I felt 

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the need and an obligation and responsibility to do something with it. So in my senior year when I was really struggling emotionally and mentally to participate in track and field, I had to call on God. I literally had to have a conversation by myself with him on the track. I'll never forget the day I was sitting on the long jump pit, because I was also a long jumper. I was actually a 100m, 200m, long jumper is what I was recruited for, I never ran the 400m. 

Phil Wharton (00:16:03):
 Okay. So one, two and the long jump. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:16:06): 

And when one day I was out at the track by myself, I had jumped fence to go out and practice the long jump cuz I really wasn't practicing very much at school with the long jump, and I wanted to do well at it. So I was having a rough day trying to get my mark. And by yourself it's a little more difficult, especially when you don't know what you're doing. 

Phil Wharton (00:16:28): Can't see. Yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:16:28): 

I just had the minimal training. Yeah. <laugh>, right? Sure. So I didn't grow up a track kid, so I definitely don't have a lot of background knowledge in that. So I'm just going with the basics, hit the board, jump, try to get as far as you can. Yeah. Right. And so with this minimal A, B, C mentality, I was just trying to improve. And I was sitting out there frustrated and I was like, oh God, why I did you gimme this gift? And I'm just so frustrated. And I said, but I made a promise to him that day that I don't know why you gave me this gift. I don't understand it and I don't even like it, but I promise you I will do it until I cannot do it anymore. And I made that promise when I was 18 years old, 

Phil Wharton (00:17:15): Eighteen 

DeeDee Trotter (00:17:16): 

And I kept that promise and that commitment all the way until the day I retired because I wanted to retire about two years before I actually did. But that promise, I set into motion that day, said I couldn't stop, couldn't stop until I was actually done. I ran until physically could literally, physically could not run anymore. And if you watch my last lap at Hayward Field, you'll see. I literally almost had nothing. I had zero left in me. So a lot of people will say, do you miss running? I say, oh no, I made sure that I wouldn't miss it. No, absolutely. I made sure that I ran until there's literally nothing left to run in me. Yeah. When you're done, you're done. And I was just glad I was able to go out on my feet and not some other way. 


So it wasn't until I was, to answer your question, it wasn't until I was probably 30, somewhere around, somewhere after 2008 when I was trying to come back from the knee, knee surgery that I had is when I felt the sense of love or having a deeper connection with the sport other than this dislike that I, or not so much of a dislike, but just it wasn't my passion. And it wasn't until I was closer to my third Olympic team that I started to feel this connection with the sport. It took a very, very, very long time. And I hate that because I always used to envy people who maybe didn't have the same amount of talent as me, but 

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who had this tremendous love and passion for the sport. I'll never forget this girl named Kelly Flowers and she ran for Tennessee and she was a walk-on <affirmative> and her talent was average for an athlete, track and field athlete, but she was the hardest worker in her determination and love and passion for the sport. I was envious of it in a healthy way. And I used to just wanna say, gosh, if I used to literally say, if I just had an ounce of the love that she has for this sport, imagine how great I could be. And so I used to just hone in on other things to help me balance out that lack of passion. 


I used to hold in on the competitive side. I used to find motivation in from people not believing in me or thinking I can't do it. And I used to create a sense of responsibility where you have to run because you have to get a college degree and you don't waste your time, be as great as it great in it as you can. And you made a promise to God. So I had all of these things that ultimately made me feel a sense of responsibility to the talent and the running. And as long as I had those in place, I would never stop. 

Phil Wharton (00:20:16): 

And you created these different reasons because of this responsibility from God and fulfilling your purpose. Absolutely. That was sort of driving you forward. And what were some of the other things that urged you forward any more of the external or internal forces and motivations during that time? Was it mostly this responsibility? Obviously with your teammate, not sort of having that as just for the sport, but you are having that for knowing your talent and wanting to fulfill this life purpose. Were there any other things that were coming up for you in that time? 

DeeDee Trotter (00:20:49): 

Well, yeah initially it was also about going to college and getting, using college as a gateway to create a life for myself, because I never saw a professional track and field or track and field as a professional sport. And you gotta keep in mind, in 2001 it was not as track and field for women as a professional sport was nowhere near as glamorous as it is today. Nowhere 

Phil Wharton (00:21:14):
 Nowhere Near <laugh>, nowhere near. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:21:16): 

So I mean, there's a whole era of women who were outstanding and exceptional athletes who just did not get the name credit, who didn't get the financial, that's the reward that they should have received. Jearl Miles Clarke, was one of the greatest female athletes alive. And a lot of people don't even know her name, outside of track and field, and if it wasn't Jackie Joyner Kersey, if it wasn't FloJo, and if it wasn't Marion Jones, they didn't know them, I mean it was like the great three, as if there weren't these other tremendously outstanding athletes doing world, world record level competitors. 


So there was no glamor in it for me. The only glamor point in it for me at that point would've been Marion Jones. It wasn't very long before, during my time. She had quite let everyone down, quite frankly. Absolutely. Absolutely. So there I didn't have anyone to look up to there, or to even look towards to say, oh track and field be a great profession. I didn't even count it at all. It was not counted. I was like, I'm going to college to get a degree so I can get a normal job in America. So 

Phil Wharton (00:22:29): 

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<laugh> going to get an education, this is a gateway to get an education, I'm good at this. Lemme stay the course, but then you end up being exactly the first female athlete at University of Tennessee to turn professional I sure did. 


Before finishing your eligibility, which was a real is a milestone. Absolutely. Yeah. And how was after that? I mean, that must have been really wild, saying, okay, all of a sudden this whole new opportunity opened up that you didn't even know existed through your craft. So you see you're kind of rising there in the craft at that point. It must have been a really amazingly exciting moment for you, even though you didn't love the actual training part, but you were really coming into a new awareness for what you could bring and what you could give to the world. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:23:23):
 And I actually set the boundaries for that. So when I came into Tennessee, I came into Tennessee. 

There's a fun story, but I'll keep it short because it can be a little bit long. 

Phil Wharton (00:23:36): That's okay. <laugh> I love it. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:23:37): 

When I got recruited to, I received two letters from Tennessee. I received a letter in basketball and I received a letter from Track. I was receiving letters from basketball and track and field from most every school in the country. 

Phil Wharton (00:23:55):
 So another tough decision, you had to figure out if I'm, am I going to follow God's purpose here for me 

or am I going to go into what I want? So there you 

DeeDee Trotter (00:24:02): I wish it was that simple 

Phil Wharton (00:24:04): Crossroads, 

DeeDee Trotter (00:24:05):
 It was actually not, It was a no brainer, I knew I was going to play basketball, 

Phil Wharton (00:24:10): Okay. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:24:11):
 There was no question, I was never considering running track for college. It was not a consideration if it 

was anything, it was a second option for if, hey if the coach at basketball lets me run then fine. Phil Wharton (00:24:23): 

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DeeDee Trotter (00:24:25): 

So the thing is, I also made, I'm a very committed person. When I say I'm going to do something, I do it at age 10. At eighteen, I said I was going to run, so I couldn't run anymore. And at age 10, I said I was going to the University of Tennessee. I went on one school visit, went to University of Tennessee. I don't care how many letters came, I got letters from LSU, I got letters from University of Florida. I got letters from, I mean, I got letters from Florida State, I got letters from Duke. I got letters from almost every school that was worth mentioning, and it was exciting. Yeah, it was great. The biggest thing that hurt me in this situation is that I had no one to precede me, no one had done what I was doing in my high school not a female athlete. The school that I went to was somewhat ignorant to the process. So they were getting the letters handing them to me and walking away. 

Phil Wharton (00:25:16): Oh gosh. Okay. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:25:17): 

I had no idea what to do with these letters. No one in my family had ever gone to college, a four year college, on athletics or at four year college for that matter. And I had basically started two shoe boxes. I took the letters, I put the ones for track in one box, and ones for basketball and another box. There you go. And then I waited. I waited because my only, and it's very ignorant, and I talk to parents in high schoolers about this now because as much as I was lucky at when you hear the rest of the story, not everyone is so lucky. That's right. Okay. So I try to educate people now on the process and what they need to do so that they don't almost miss out on, they don't miss out on the opportunity like I almost did. So I took those letters, I put 'em in the box and I waited, because my idea of what was supposed to happen next was I thought the coaches were going to call me. Right. I thought they were going to show up in the, the gym one day in 

Phil Wharton (00:26:13):
 The auditorium with pens
 <laugh>, just like they do on Fresh Prince of Bel Air right? (00:26:17): 

<laugh>, right, that's right, that's right, 

DeeDee Trotter (00:26:19): 

I'm thinking this is the next step just like you know, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, just like on the show, they're going to come in and they're going to watch me like they watched Will Smith. And so I am waiting, I'm waiting for the calls, I'm waiting for the knock at the door. I'm waiting for the appearance in the gym. No one comes. No one calls. Right. Wow. Yeah. My basketball team is doing extraordinarily well this year. I was recruited top in the state. I received tip-off club awards for basketball, offensive player of the year two years in a row, defensive player of the year, two years in a row. And the state has a team that they put together for international travel. I was always selected to be on those teams. I couldn't go to those teams because I couldn't afford the trips. But 

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You were selected. That's a major honor. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:27:10): 

And with that being the process, with that being my accolades I was a recognized basketball player in state of Georgia. So as it became, things became closer and closer to time to go to college. The letters coming and the No, there was no, I never reached out, basically. And when I didn't reach out, the questions started to be, what do we do? Oh yeah. My mom was like, well, you're still going to Tennessee. And I'm like, yeah, I'm absolutely going to Tennessee. So we applied to Tennessee academically I was accepted academically. Me and my best friend Danielle, true to our word, 10 years old, We're going to Tennessee. 

Phil Wharton (00:28:04): That's Fantastic. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:28:04):
 We applied academically. We were accepted academically, and we went on the school visit normal kids 

who don't play sports. Right. 

Phil Wharton (00:28:11):
 No way. That's great. That is so great. Well, how refreshing. How refreshing. Yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:28:18): 

And the whole mindset behind that was, Hey, we're getting there. No matter how we have to get there. Right. We're going to get there and I'll figure out the basketball thing. When I get there. I'll even figure out the money thing as I, we'll get it figured out one step at a time. Just keep going. Right. And then as my basketball team was having a killer year, we were undefeated at home, 13 straight wins. We were just having one of those state championship years. We make it to state, we get fourth, we get put out in one of the worst games we had all season to a team that we should've beat. And we just had a rough night. Okay. So we finished the tournament in fourth, and I get a call from my coach that night as we're driving home from the game and he says, Hey I entered you in the Georgia Indoor 200m, it's on Friday. And I'm like, what? <laugh>? Literally Wednesday night. 

Phil Wharton (00:29:16):
 Oh no, you're like tanked from all those big ballgames. Yeah, yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:29:21): 

I'm like coach, I haven't been training for track, and he's like, you'll be fine. It's just fun. Just go. And I'm like yeah, yeah. I entered you already, So It's already set up, just go ahead and go. It starts and such and such. I'll send you the details. I was like, okay. All right so we'll go. So, I literally straight off the court, right to the Georgia Indoor Invitational, I ran the 200, I broke the indoor record. Oh wow. The coach from the University of Tennessee was in the building. 

Phil Wharton (00:29:52): 

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DeeDee Trotter (00:29:54): 

Yeah. She comes running down the stairs in her orange jacket, and her she always wore a ponytail to the left side of her shoulder and her, and she comes running down the stairs with little ponytail to the side, and her Tennessee orange jacket. And she's like, what school are you going to? She doesn't, doesn't introduce herself. She doesn't say, hey, I'm coach. Right. No introduction. She rolled straight in, almost aggravated with me. What school are you going? And I'm like, Tennessee her face gets a little sad, and she's like, for basketball? 

Phil Wharton (00:30:42): She thought basketball. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:30:43): 

And I was like kinda, she's like well, tell me more. So at that point I told, explained to her that my dream was to play basketball. I've enrolled in Tennessee, I'm accepted in Tennessee, I'm going to Tennessee. And my goal is to get on that basketball team. And she says I think I can help you do that. And we negotiated a terms of agreement, so to speak. She said, I will help you. I will personally introduce you to Pat Summit. I will, also try my, I will also allow you to run track and play basketball if you make the teams, if you still wanna run, all I ask is you give me one year of track and field completely just running track and field, and I will do my part to put you in front of Pat Summit to help to let you make your case and do what you gotta do. 

Phil Wharton (00:31:42):
 Wow. That's an amazing, that's a gift. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:31:44): You have a deal. 

Phil Wharton (00:31:45): Yeah. That's a great deal. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:31:47): 

She gave me a scholarship and I basically was able to walk on, I mean was able to run track. And in doing so, I ended up having a stellar year. She kept her word. I had a very good freshman year and she kept her word and she introduced me to, she made it so I would have a personal meeting with Pat Summit. In that meeting, I would go to her and explain to her and show her You sent me a letter. 

Phil Wharton (00:32:22): Yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:32:24): I'm on your radar. 

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Yeah, exactly. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:32:26): 

I know that my name came up somewhere to be able to have this letter in my hand. I explained to her my athleticism. I told her I was the fastest thing you've ever seen on a basketball court. I was a defensive threat and offensive threat with my speed. And that if she gave me a shot I promised that she would not be disappointed. I wouldn't let her down. I also told her that it's been my dream to play for her in the University of Tennessee my entire life. If she could just give me a chance. Basically I said something along the lines of I would be one of the best players never seen if she didn't give me a chance. 

Phil Wharton (00:33:05): Yeah, that's right 

DeeDee Trotter (00:33:07):
 And she said to me, she said, I don't have to do do tryouts. And I was like, oh, I 

Phil Wharton (00:33:19): Really? 

DeeDee Trotter (00:33:20):
 It's a very funny conversation because I'm sitting in front of the person, I literally idolized the most 

Phil Wharton (00:33:25): Absolutely. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:33:26):
 And I'm telling them that they have to gimme a tryout 

Phil Wharton (00:33:28):
 <laugh>. And she's like, you don't have to. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:33:30): It's actually kind of insane. But 

Phil Wharton (00:33:32): That is insane. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:33:33):
 She says to me I don't have to do tryouts. And I said coach, no disrespect, I 100% know that. You know, 

probably have a line from here to Africa waiting on Phil Wharton (00:33:48): 

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DeeDee Trotter (00:33:50): It's just, I know 

Phil Wharton (00:33:52): That's amazing, DeeDee. Yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:33:55): 

I'm just hoping you can gimme a shot. And she said, well I have to open a tryout to the whole school, but I'll definitely do it for you. She gave me her word to hold the trial the following season. And true to her word she did I ended up not being able to try out because unfortunately that coach that made that wonderful deal with me. She had to resign my freshman year. 

Phil Wharton (00:34:22): Wow. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:34:22): 

And when she resigned that created a new group of coaches that came in that had to then honor the agreement that I had with her. But they didn't really take the time to get to know me, to understand the agreement or understand how it came into existence. And, and that created an issue between me and the coaches because they gave me an ultimatum. Basically the ultimatum was, even if you go and try out for the basketball team, we don't give you permission to participate in basketball, therefore we take your scholarship. 

Phil Wharton (00:34:57):
 Right. We're not going to honor the scholarship. I was thought that would come next. Yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:35:02):
 So I had a great freshman year. I met up with Pat Summit. I got to basically break down this, give her my, 

give me a chance speech. 

Phil Wharton (00:35:14): Yes. Yes. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:35:16): 

I told her to watch out for me. I'm going to really do my best to impress her. And I did. I had a great freshman year and I ended up being SEC Athlete of the Week a couple times. And in doing so there's a poster of me that goes up in the same office building as Pat Summit's office. Perfect. My poster ended up right in front of her door. 

Phil Wharton (00:35:40):
 Yes. I love that. I love that. That's the ultimate statement, the ultimate statement. 

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You couldn't tell me this wasn't destiny. I was like yes, I'm setting this up so great. I didn't even have anything to do with that part. And I was like, wow she has to literally see my face everyday. 

Phil Wharton (00:35:56):
 Everyday, walking into her office, SEC Yeah. I love it. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:36:01): 

That's awesome. And I was a standout. I had a standout year in my freshman year. It wasn't the most exceptional year. I wasn't in NCAA champion or anything like that. But for a freshman athlete, I had some pretty good stats. And it was like, oh it's a great freshman year, or a solid, I should say, a solid freshman year. And when I went home that summer, because again, I stopped running summer track when I was like sixteen or seventeen, I didn't run anymore. And so after track season was over, I went home. I didn't run track in the summer or for Junior Olympics or none of that. So yeah, I went home and I started training for basketball under the expectation that I was trying out for basketball that coming that fall, which was the plan. Right. And I got a call from JJ Clark and he says, Hey, we're the new coaches. When are you coming back to start training? And I say, ah, I'm really coming back based on when school starts and when the basketball tryout is. And he's like, basketball tryout. I was like, yeah, I have a basketball tryout. And he is like, ah, can you come in a little early so we can talk about that? 

Phil Wharton (00:37:12): <laugh>Right 

DeeDee Trotter (00:37:12): 

And yeah, I showed up and they sat me down at the long conference table, where there's like 20 chairs around it. And they passed me a piece of paper. It said the NCAA rule. NCAA rules state that an athlete in the smaller sport has to have permission from that sport to participate in the larger sport to 

Phil Wharton (00:37:36):
 The revenue you have the non-revenue to the revenue sport. Yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:37:39): 

Exactly. And they were not giving me permission to use my scholarship to play basketball. And that if I went to play basketball or even to the tryout, that I would forfeit my track and field scholarship. See, at that point, they're talking to me without having any knowledge of the preexisting conversation, the preexisting agreement I had, the dream that I've had since I was 10 years old, they don't know me. They just know me as the, their ultimately their top female track and field athlete. 

Phil Wharton (00:38:13):
 And they're just trying to, in a business sense, try to protect their investment without understanding the 

context of what you can bring here to the both programs. DeeDee Trotter (00:38:22): 

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Absolutely. Which is very, very short. And they weren't willing to risk it. And it was more so one of those 

situations where ask questions before you hand out ultimatums, why do you wanna play basketball? 

Phil Wharton (00:38:40): Right. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:38:42): How did this come about? 

Phil Wharton (00:38:44): Yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:38:45):
 And then from that understanding, then there might have been different choices made, but 

Phil Wharton (00:38:50): Absolutely 

DeeDee Trotter (00:38:52):
 I can't go at that point. I couldn't go back. They can't go back. So it was a matter of just trying to fix it. So 

yeah, I left out of their room that day in tears. Heartbroken.Devastated. 

Phil Wharton (00:39:03):
 Yes. That's your lifelong dream from your earliest moment. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:39:07):
 And I went so much to get there. Yes. Didn't have the money to go to college, didn't get the proper 

recruitment situation. I'm already there on a blessing and a whim. 

Phil Wharton (00:39:18): Yes, yes 

DeeDee Trotter (00:39:21): 

And at that point I call Pat Summit and I say, coach, this is what's happening. Do you have a scholarship? If I leave, would I be able to get a scholarship? At that time, she didn't have anything would, the next scholarship she would have would be for 40% in February. 

Phil Wharton (00:39:39): In February. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:39:40):
 And that means I would have to figure out out-of-state tuition at University of Tennessee for one 


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And she's not even seen you play. I mean, you'd never even got to do the tryout at this point. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:39:52): Exactly. 

Phil Wharton (00:39:52):
 It shows to the integrity of Pat. She's willing to do all these things. It's amazing. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:39:57): 

Absolutely. And I said, this is what's happened. I don't wanna let you down or anything because you went out of your way to set this up and you know, you had to open it to the whole school, not favoritism. You have to open it to the whole school to do it. And now there's a random assortment of people trying out for basketball who probably just don't have what it takes. 

Phil Wharton (00:40:24):
 And she never would've had to do that before. Because 

DeeDee Trotter (00:40:27): Yeah, exactly. I felt horrible. 

Phil Wharton (00:40:29): Yeah. No 

DeeDee Trotter (00:40:30): 

And then I had to think of, well make a decision. Either I completely lose my scholarship, or I have to take this chance that I'm going to go and try out and make the team with Pat Summit. But even if I made the team, she wouldn't have but 40% for me until the next fall. I would still have to come up with a significant amount of money. 

Phil Wharton (00:40:49):
 And with track and field you had a hundred percent grant and aid, I would imagine. Yeah, 

DeeDee Trotter (00:40:53):
 Yep, I was on full. Yeah. So I didn't know how to navigate that as a 19 year- old. 

Phil Wharton (00:41:02): Of course not. No. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:41:03):
 And I didn't know mean at that time. Obviously I had about two weeks to come up with 30K. I just didn't 

know how to navigate that. So 

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Yeah, no, this feels like 

DeeDee Trotter (00:41:19):
 It became a pretty clear cut situation. 

Phil Wharton (00:41:22): 

It just feels like one of your falls, a big speed bump in the road here. And what did you feel like to this point, this was kind of the lowest moment in your career or life overall? Was this a big moment before the 2008 surgery? So this really preceded that, obviously and was a big big moment. And how did you pivot on this? What turned you around? 

DeeDee Trotter (00:41:47): 

Well, the ultimatum and then ultimately making the decision to run track for what I felt was forcefully. It pretty much crippled my relationship with the sport. I think that's what created the 30 year connection to the passion or love for the sport. Because I became resentful 

Phil Wharton (00:42:13): Of course 

DeeDee Trotter (00:42:15):
 Of the sport. And I resented the coaches, I resented the program, I resented everything about it. And for 

half a season I would say I made sure they felt my resentment. (00:42:31): 

I, the coach Clark had to threaten to send me home a couple times because I was selfishly running with the mindset of if you put me on a four team and the whole team is comprised of 1500 meter runners and we're in last place when I get the baton, please explain to me why I would run around the track and break my backbone to put us in last by 10 meters instead of <laugh>. Like, yeah. I didn't understand the mentality of the sport because I never took the sport in a mentality to understand it. Even after a whole year of running as a freshman, I was literally just stepping on the line and doing what I was told. Like you say jump how high? You say run you how far? Yeah. You say win how fast? Yeah. That's how I took it. I still never became a student of the game. 


So to me, when you put me on a relay with three girls who run the 1500m, one who runs the 1500m run, who runs the 3K and one, who runs 800, that tells me you're not trying to win the 4x400m. So why would you put me on anchor leg and why would I kill myself when we are in last by over a hundred, over 200 meters? We just got lapped out there. This was indoors. We literally had got lapped, and he wanted me to bust my hump. I didn't understand that mentality. My mentality was completely off this, off the comprehensive. I wasn't able to comprehend how that was supposed to be training for me. And so I would jog, and he is like, why are you jogging? And I'm like, we were lapped. What did you want me to do? <laugh>.So 

Phil Wharton (00:44:09): Right. 

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And so I was very A, B, C, literal and very ignorant to the thing. And they didn't know that because again, they think I run track 

Phil Wharton (00:44:19):
 <laugh>. Right. And they're assuming a student of the sport when you're just coming into it. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:44:24): Exactly. 

Phil Wharton (00:44:24): 

And you're thinking, okay, I'm in a performance mindset of just kind of almost like a wild animal in a good way. Just hey, exactly. Put me there and let me go. Just like the playground just coming up and running free. Right? Yeah, exactly. It's awesome. It's the way it should be though. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:44:39): 

And that's the most bliss part of it. Sometimes that is the most bliss you can actually have in competing is not knowing what, where, who, why, or how just go. Yeah. And I had a mentality of when is the purpose, and when certain scenarios didn't make sense, it doesn't make sense to me. So they didn't understand that I wasn't a track athlete, I was a person participating in track 

Phil Wharton (00:45:08):
 That happened to be very, very fast. Exactly. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:45:12): 

And so they were upset and frustrated. Yeah. Because they thought I was being intentionally just like being a jerk. And while my attitude with them was not pleasant, I was not intentionally being a jerk. I was ignorant to the mentality or the process of training during the fall and all of that stuff. That was uncomprehensible for me. Right. So 

Phil Wharton (00:45:39): Yeah, it was basketball time. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:45:41):
 Yeah, I don't know what you're talking 

Phil Wharton (00:45:43):
 Fall to winter right? We, in two days, the state championship coach says, Hey, you wanna do the deuce? 

Exactly. Alright, I'll run half lap in the dome. That's fine. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:45:56): 

Exactly, and they forgot that half of my season outdoors was spent with no coach. She had to resign during the very, almost the very beginning of outdoor season. It was early outdoor season when Myrtle Ferguson had to resign from Tennessee. 

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Okay, okay 

DeeDee Trotter (00:46:12): 

So, in that time that timeframe I only had basically one semester, I only had the fall with her to even have a mild comprehension of how track and field worked and all of the things. And like I said, for me it was the first time going through any of that. And I was literally just going through the motions where, and that's all I needed to know. I don't need the details, I don't need any of that stuff just 

Phil Wharton (00:46:38): <laugh>. Right. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:46:38): 

What time does the race start? Which one am I in? And just go, that's all I need. But that made me very threatening. It made me a huge threat because when a person doesn't care and they're fearless, but they have a hunger to be competitive and a drive to just to kick butt, that's when you have that kind of mentality, and you don't know who she should be concerned about and you don't know, you're a huge threat. So that's why I was so great. One of the things that made me great was just my ignorance to the whole thing. 

Phil Wharton (00:47:16): Yes. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:47:17): 

And so they were frustrated. I was frustrated. And so my whole sophomore year was a bunch of back and forth anger, anger moments between my coach me and Coach Clark and Coach Carroll. And ultimately the final straw for Coach Carroll was Coach Carroll was really my coach. JJ was the head coach, but Carol Smith Gilbert was the head sprint coach for the women. 

Phil Wharton (00:47:47): That makes sense. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:47:49):
 So I was dealing with her on a daily basis, and I'll never forget, we were at the SEC Quad meet at South 

Carolina and she's like, you're running the 400m. And I was like, I don't run the 400m. 

Phil Wharton (00:48:00): That's right, yeah 

DeeDee Trotter (00:48:01): 

I'm like, you guys just got here, you guys, you now you've took basketball away, now you're going to put me in an event I don't do? This is, this is just great. And so they're like, no, you're running the 400m this week. And I was like, okay. So I get out on the track and at this I've like, I like said, my resentment and 

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my anger has mounted up. I'm just kind of really just done ultimately. And I get on the track and the gun 

goes off and I jog the whole 400 meters. 

Phil Wharton (00:48:33): Oh no. Okay. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:48:34):
 A literal, literally jogged the race. 

Phil Wharton (00:48:38): 

So your emotions had reached the boiling point from the defensiveness, of obviously they took your dream away. And then these are whole new coaching regime comes in and you know, don't know them, they don't know you. And it's just all this bubbled up and they're are at SEC and Yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:48:54):
 Yep. Well, we're at the quad meet. 

Phil Wharton (00:48:56): At the quad meet. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:48:57):
 Yeah. It's not a major championship. Yeah. It's just some shenanigans on the side. 

Phil Wharton (00:49:01): Got it. Okay. Got it. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:49:03): 

Yeah. And she says so when I finish the race, she's like, her face is red, like she's steaming. And she's like, okay, what do we gotta do? What's going on? And I explained to her, I said, you guys came in here, you didn't know me. You didn't even try to get to know me. You took a dream away from me. Or you put me in a position to make a decision for a dream that I've had since I was 10 years old without even asking me. Then you mock me, you make jokes and things. Oh, you thought you were going to play for the Lady Vols, and all this without even knowing the magnitude of how painful a joke like that is to me. And there was things that had happened along the way that I just continued to make me feel like just rage. And so I explained that to her and I said, and now the final straw, you're just going to start throwing me around in different events. It's just another version of, you guys haven't even taken a chance to get to know who you're dealing with or who your athletes are. You just came in here and start pushing everybody around, I feel bullied. 

Phil Wharton (00:50:11):
 On assumptions. And then all this separate and exclusionary with this language of sitting at a conference 

table with an ultimatum on a piece of paper. Which is exactly, doesn't make sense. DeeDee Trotter (00:50:24): 

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Which is tough. And I'm a kid. Ultimately I'm 19 years old. It doesn't feel good. No. At this point, as intelligent as a kid, as I think I was mature, and I should say it's more mature than anything. There's still things that I wasn't able to manage mentally as it pertained to how things were unfolding. That makes sense. And I was dealing with it from a place of heartbreak as well. So yes, I had that conversation with her. Then she explained to me, she didn't know. And I was like, of course you didn't know, you didn't ask. That's right. And we had a heart to heart that day. And she said, okay, I'm going to let you run whatever you wanna run. But at SEC's, you run the 400m. Okay. So if you wanna run the 100m and the 200m, and do the long jump, I'm 100% for it. We'll enter you in there, and there, and at Georgia we'll do this, this, that, and the third. But at SEC's, if you could run the 400m for me that, how does that sound? So you have a deal. Oh, okay. So I'm made a deal with her and I did the 100m, I did 200m, I did well at the 200m I was on the descending order list is, what was the process at the time, was top 21 times or something like that, Or top 18 times. I can't remember. 

Phil Wharton (00:51:48): Regionals. Yeah 

DeeDee Trotter (00:51:49):
 We didn't have regionals at the time. 

Phil Wharton (00:51:50):
 Oh, okay. It was pre regionals. Got it. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:51:52):
 Yeah. Pre regionals. It was descending order list. So top times in the country Got it. Top 18 times in the 

country. And if you were on the bubble, I think it was 19 or 20, you're on the bubble. 

Phil Wharton (00:52:01): Went to nationals. Got it. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:52:03): 

And so I was on the descending order list for the 200m. I was higher up on the 400m list. I ended up higher on the 400m list, but I was on both lists. But the way that the schedule was set up, you really couldn't do both events. So you had to choose one at that time. And so SEC's was at Tennessee for the first time in many years for track and field. 

Phil Wharton (00:52:26): At home. Okay. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:52:26):
 Yep. At home. And the reason my attitude shifted, and these are kind of monumental moments, I guess 

you can say. 

Phil Wharton (00:52:34): Yes. 

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I still wasn't gung ho about running the 400m, but she, we made a deal. And if you haven't put together my personality type a woman of my word, I made deals. 

Phil Wharton (00:52:46): Exactly. Yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:52:47):
 I make commitments. I follow through. 

Phil Wharton (00:52:48):
 Yeah. Yeah. <laugh>. So honoring that, 

DeeDee Trotter (00:52:52): 

She kept her words. So I was going to keep mine. And when it came time for the race, I'd say maybe leading up to it, I would say the day before, I believe it was the day before the prelims I started to get these little comments from people. Just do the best you can. <laugh> Don't worry about anything. You know like sympathetic, Ugh It just makes me feel gross. Yeah. And I just had, I'm like, why are you talking to me like I'm going to lose? Get outta my face. And it made me so angry, but in a motivational way. 

Phil Wharton (00:53:30):
 So that fierceness came back. Yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:53:33):
 Exactly, the more it seemed like they thought I was like, just do the best you can and yeah, and don't 

worry about anything. (00:53:42): 

 Who do you guys think you're talking to? I'm (00:53:44):
 An animal. Right. Get outta here.
 The killer. Yeah. I gotta be out there (00:53:48): 

<laugh>. So the more it seemed like they didn't think I could do it, or win, that just I said, I'm going to show y'all. And just like that, I said, oh, you guys think I can't do it? I see the little pity in your eyes and the little sympathetic voices. I get it. And now I'm going to tell you where you can put all those. And so I was at that very moment, a light clicked off in my head when I got those little tones, and little vibrations from them. Yeah. Yep. I said, oh, oh no, I'll win it. Just cause I don't like how you guys talk to me. 

Phil Wharton (00:54:22): 

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DeeDee Trotter (00:54:26):
 Literally that's how I beat Hazel Ann Regis, who was leading the world in the 400m. She was the world 

leader at the time. And I won the SEC title at Tennessee. 

Phil Wharton (00:54:38):
 You won the title there? Yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:54:40): And I did it in a time of 50.66 

Phil Wharton (00:54:44): 50.66 Yeah, that's fast! 

DeeDee Trotter (00:54:46):
 Running the world leading time. Breaking Hazel Ann Regis's time that she set, and beating her all at the 

same time. 

Phil Wharton (00:54:53):
 Your first time in the 400m as well. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:54:55):
 First time in the 400m, the real deal. First time running it. 

Phil Wharton (00:54:59): It's remarkable. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:55:00): 

And they were like, yeah. And I'm like, if you only knew the motivation behind this was those little ridiculous voice and tones that you guys had. So like I said, I picked up on anything I could to make, to make it make sense for me for a while. And so from there, what I didn't realize about the sport and that I learned, I guess race by race is that one good race leads to another and one good race pushes you into another. 

Phil Wharton (00:55:31): That's right. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:55:33): 

So as you do well in one, as long as you keep placing top three, you almost don't get a choice but to go to the next one, you kind of have to. Right. So it's a progressional situation. Yeah. I didn't know. I didn't really realize all that. So I went to SECs, I won the title. I knew NCAAs was ahead. I had been there the year before. So we went to NCAAs. I chose the 400 because, well I you, I guess you could say I kinda, chose the 400. We selected the 400 because I was higher on the list. 

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Okay. So, 

DeeDee Trotter (00:56:01):
 And I ended up getting second place at NCAA's. I was runner up to Sonya Richards. 

Phil Wharton (00:56:06):
 Fantastic right there. Yeah. That's a prelude to other good things to come like 2012 the bronze, Right? 

DeeDee Trotter (00:56:12):
 And I had no idea who she was. She was like literally, I had no idea who Sonya Richards was. She coulda 

literally been the biggest name in the world. I would've been like, who's that? I had had no idea. 

Phil Wharton (00:56:23):
 Even better. Even better. That you didn't know Exactly. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:56:26): 

Had no idea who I was racing. And that race I was tricked into going to USA's. I was told that if I just won more race, literally they were taking it. They honestly, I think they were taking, and JJ and Carol, they'll probably laugh if they hear this podcast. Yeah, sure. I think they were somewhat taking advantage of my ignorance of the sport and how as you win, how you can move on, I didn't understand that. Or they just were blown away that I didn't understand that. So either way. Yeah. Either they were kind of playing on that or they had no idea that I was that ignorant. So 

Phil Wharton (00:57:13):
 All they knew is we had a diamond. We have a diamond and we're going to market right now. Yeah, 

DeeDee Trotter (00:57:18):
 Exactly. We're going to keep pushing it. 

Phil Wharton (00:57:19): Yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:57:20): 

So we're going to keep pressing it. Yeah. So they were like, oh, we got I you in USA's. One more, just one more race. I said, wait a minute, that's it for college. What do you mean one more race? They were just one more, it's one more it's in Palo Alto. I think it was Palo Alto. 

Phil Wharton (00:57:35): Okay. At Stanford? 

DeeDee Trotter (00:57:36): 

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Yeah, I believe so. Yeah. I believe it was at Palo Alto. Yeah. They was like, just one more race. One more race. And I was like, oh God. Okay. Just one more race. We already got you there. No, it was it Sacramento? I don't remember. But it was in California and it was not too far from where the NCAA's were held. So we went up there and I was like, okay, it's no big deal, just one more race. And when I got there, it's not one more race, it's one more championship, which means three rounds. 

Phil Wharton (00:58:00): A lot of rounds. Yes 

DeeDee Trotter (00:58:01):
 I was so upset. I was like, what? You said one more race. Right? This is three more races. 

Phil Wharton (00:58:08): Yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:58:10): 

And I had no idea about this world at all. Completely oblivious to the USA track and field thing. And so I said, you guys said one more race. This is three more races. It's not what you said. And they were like, oh, well it only might be two races because there's a shortage on people who entered the 400. Oh, okay. So true to that. 

Phil Wharton (00:58:37):
 They may drop out of a trial or go right to a quarter. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:58:40): 

2003, we had very few people show up for the 400 the women's 400. Oh, interesting. So we went straight to the semi-finals. So we had a very small field. We went to the semi-finals and we went straight to the finals and I got third in the finals. True story. And I'll just, Phil you're just getting the real, cuz I don't really tell people this part. 

Phil Wharton (00:59:04):
 That's fantastic. I love this. This is so good. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:59:06): 

I was so tired by then and I felt tricked that in the 400 finals, when I was coming around the last hundred, I saw that I was in third place. I had an extra kick in me, but I was like, third is fine, third is the last race. It doesn't even matter. 

Phil Wharton (00:59:27): That's amazing. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:59:29):
 See, the craziest thing about this, is that I had no idea that top three that 

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You were going to go to world's. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:59:36):
 See they kept me in the dark. The dark, dark 

Phil Wharton (00:59:39):
 Like top six, you're going to be on a relay. You don't even top six, you're going to get funding, you're 

going to get insurance. Those all these things didn't even register. 

DeeDee Trotter (00:59:50): They didn't tell me 

Phil Wharton (00:59:50):
 You're going to be a professional. You're coming into just making a final. I could get a contract, like 

professional, all this stuff 

DeeDee Trotter (00:59:57):
 No idea. Phil, No idea. These things were left out of the fine print okay. 

Phil Wharton (01:00:03): So they 

DeeDee Trotter (01:00:04): Were in the fine print maybe 

Phil Wharton (01:00:05):
 Kid gloves. Okay, we've got this jewel here, but we don't wanna. We wanna keep sort of in the dark so 

that we can sort of manipulate it into one race at time. Very strange mentality. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:00:17): 

Yes, I literally think they had a secret plan going to say, yeah, oh yeah, for sure. This kid is awesome. She doesn't know how awesome she is in the sport. Or if she does, she doesn't care. And what we wanna try to do is give her the best chance we possibly can to have a successful career. And we're looking at it from a standpoint of, hey yeah, 

Phil Wharton (01:00:36):
 She's her own one worst enemy. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:00:37): 

Yeah, exactly. So yeah, let's keep her in the dark a little bit. Right. And just, we'll explain it to her one thing at a time. So I had no idea that I thought this was the last race because they said it was the last race, right? <laugh> One more race. 

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A championship 

DeeDee Trotter (01:01:01): Yes. I had no idea. 

Phil Wharton (01:01:03): With rounds. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:01:04): 

Exactly. And it didn't feel very much like a big deal because at that point USA track and field was not the limelight, the smoke and glitter is not there, like it is now. Exactly. And again, at this point, nobody even showed up to run the 400. So I'm not seeing the prestige, I'm not seeing the beauty in all of this. It doesn't seem like a professional environment to me. 

Phil Wharton (01:01:32):
 And television folks is highlights. This is not live streaming on, there's not Olympic channel. No. It's very, 

FlowTrack is not even a thing yet. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:01:44):
 Nope there's no social media for it, none of that. 

Phil Wharton (01:01:46):
 They came out in 2007, to us in Flagstaff, so it's very limited access to this. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:01:54): 

Absolutely. And that being the case and then having it be a really flat year. I don't think they had another year like that since 2003, I believe. No, I've never seen another year in my time, where we didn't have enough people to run the rounds. 

Phil Wharton (01:02:11): That is very strange. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:02:13): 

And so whatever happened in 2003 never happened again. But it definitely didn't seem like a professional environment. I had no idea this was a professional track meet, it just didn't feel very professional. 


Or was it definitely wasn't glamorous. So I was like, what is this one more race? All right, well where is it and what do we gotta do? Right? So I looked up and I was like, oh well I'm in third place now. I had an extra kick in me and I was like, ah, but third place is fine and nobody's really behind me, so this is fine. This is the last phrase. It really doesn't matter. What do I get for this? I don't get a trophy, I don't get, 

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what is this? Like, oh my god. I didn't see the purpose in the race. So I just was like, third is fine. And I 

literally comfortably kept myself in third. And 

Phil Wharton (01:03:00):
 You shut it down, ran on through, coasted in. Yeah wow. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:03:03):
 And if I had known that it took three, I probably would've figured out a way to get fourth <laugh>. 

Phil Wharton (01:03:10): Right. Gotcha. Wow. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:03:15):
 At that point, I was definitely not interested in running anymore. 

Phil Wharton (01:03:17):
 I wanna go home, I want to go back to Decatur. I'm done. I'm out <laugh> enough of this Vol Nation, I 

gotta get home, I gotta reset, I gotta get to my friends. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:03:28):
 A summer? A summer of running sounds terrible. (01:03:30): 

So, I crossed the finish line and I was like, whew, okay great. This is over. I'm tired. And I get rushed into a press conference. So, which I didn't know was a press conference. Oh great. Yeah. Everybody's so happy. I'm like, why is everybody so happy? And I get sat at the table, and I'm kid you not Phil, they sit me down at the table. All these cameras are in front of us with the microphones, and all those big giant boom mics and stuff. Oh 

Phil Wharton (01:03:58): Oh wow, yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:03:59):
 And I'm sitting there and they have a little name card for me, and then Demetria Washington, Sonya 

Richards, right? 

Phil Wharton (01:04:07): Yeah. Yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:04:08):
 And I'm like, what is going on here? And they were so DeeDee, how does it feel to be going to make the 

World Championship team and be going to Paris? I was like, excuse me. Phil Wharton (01:04:20): 

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DeeDee Trotter (01:04:25): 

Right. So obviously I'm sitting in front of the camera, so I play it off. I was like, yeah, it's really exciting. That's great. And I'm literally, smoke is coming outta my ears. Oh my. I'm like, gosh, how could they set me up to sit here and be so unprepared and in shock? And I'm like, Paris. Now keep in mind, I have never left the country. I do not have a passport. 

Phil Wharton (01:04:48): No passport right. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:04:50):
 Yeah, I have never ever, so yeah, this is bigger in my mind than even comprehendable. 

Phil Wharton (01:04:58): Huge. What did you do? 

DeeDee Trotter (01:05:00): Just like that. 

Phil Wharton (01:05:01): Oh my gosh. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:05:02): 

I walked off and I said, you guys did not tell me <laugh> this. So what is going on? Yeah, okay. Well you made the world championship team and that's in Paris. And so you'll go there and you'll, you'll run the 400 and it's three rounds. Okay. So another three, you said one more track meet. That's another whole track meet. 

Phil Wharton (01:05:23):
 Right, and that's another six weeks with the training camp and all this stuff. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:05:27): 

Another country. And again, none of this stuff had really any allure to me because, I didn't have any experience with international travel or even any seeds planted to go. So, it was kind of a lot to take in. And as I came to terms with it, we went to the post office, I got the passport and everyone's super excited. You made the world team. And I'm like, yay. I was tricked on the world team and I still have no knowledge of the people I'm running against. And I get to the world and I ran in the 400, I made the semi-finals. I didn't make the finals by a few spots. I ran the prelim of the 400, I mean the 4x400 relay. I did exceptionally well on my leg. And then I realized that track and field has a lot of politics. 

Phil Wharton (01:06:34): Yes 

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Phil Wharton (01:06:37): Especially when it comes to relays 

DeeDee Trotter (01:06:40): 

Especially when it comes to relays. And I said, this is why I don't want to fool with this, because yeah, it's a lot of different shenanigans here when it comes to all of this. It's not always based on who's the best and how well you do at something. So that is something I wasn't a big fan of cuz I, I'm also a stickler for fairness. 

Phil Wharton (01:07:07):
 Yeah, that's good, and doing what's right golden rule. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:07:07): 

I felt, yeah, exactly. And when I felt like there was a lot of just wrongdoing, again, I was turned off to the sport again. Especially on what was now being told to me at the professional level. And I was like, oh, I would never wanna do this because they don't, this isn't right. Wasn't right how they did me, and they did other people wrong. And they ran someone on the relay who was not running faster than me who didn't even make the team individually. So how do you justify putting someone. 

Phil Wharton (01:07:38):
 They just brought somebody else in. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:07:39): 

Yeah. How do you justify running a person who didn't make the team, who I beat two times putting them, it didn't make sense to me. And I didn't understand that because my world is, you put the fastest people, you put the people who've earned the spot. 

Phil Wharton (01:07:57):
 And that should never make sense to you. Quite honestly. That should never make sense. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:08:01):
 No, it shouldn't. Yeah. It was wrong then, It's wrong now. That's right. And it's wrong. No matter how 

you slice and dice it. I was like, oh, if this is how we do things, I don't wanna be a part of this. 

Phil Wharton (01:08:13):
 So you're thinking, this is all cutting into my summer. This is not good, ultimately. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:08:17):
 I had a really great time in Paris and I'm glad that I was kind of tricked into the whole thing because I saw 

the Mona Lisa. We went on a private tour of the Louve. 

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The Louve. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:08:28):
 I went to the Eiffel Tower, we went on a private tour up the Eiffel Tower and to the top. 

Phil Wharton (01:08:34):
 Now you're seeing the world, you're seeing another culture. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:08:37): 

Yeah. It was awesome. It was a wonderful experience. So there was definitely a better summer than being at home. It was free. I didn't pay for anything. That's right. Minimal. Minimal complaints there. So good. Yeah. The minus, the unfair 4x400 final relay selection, where I was cut out of the final without good reason. 

Phil Wharton (01:09:05): That's right. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:09:07): 

And just side note, Jearl Miles Clark did fight for me. And I like to put that out there because a lot of people just don't stand up for things that are wrong. And when she saw this and she didn't think it was right she stood up for me, and she wanted, she wanted an explanation. And then in 2004, something similar happened to her. 

Phil Wharton (01:09:30):
 I remember that. Yeah. She's a person of great integrity. Yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:09:33): 

Come on man. It's just one of those things I just like to highlight because so often those things are left out. And so that kind of put a bad taste in my mouth, but when I got home, I still never really, women's track and field in 2003 is milestones from where? Milestones away from where it was back then. So it just did not have a allure to it at all. 

Phil Wharton (01:10:04):
 Yeah. Well it didn't an infrastructure, it didn't have funding. I mean there was so many things that it 

lacked right? 

DeeDee Trotter (01:10:10): And it was not appealing at all. 

Phil Wharton (01:10:12): That makes total sense. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:10:14): 

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So I still was not thinking about embarking on that journey professionally. I was like, I'm coming back to school, I'm going to get my degree and go somewhere. But when I returned back to school, something earlier that you referenced, the calls to go professional and all that, and making that decision. When they called after I got back from Paris, it was, hey, we would like DeeDee to go pro, we want to offer her Okay. We wanna ofter her. 

Phil Wharton (01:10:41):
 This is the Adidas opportunity? 

DeeDee Trotter (01:10:44):
 I'm not sure who was calling at the time. I believe it was agents. 

Phil Wharton (01:10:50):
 Got it. Yeah, that makes sense. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:10:51):
 The agents were saying, and I was kind of in the dark because I'm not allowed to talk to them and I'm 

not allowed to. So I was just informed that there were inquiries about me going professional. 

Phil Wharton (01:11:03):
 Coming back from world champs now, okay. Back to school, got it. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:11:06): 

Yep. And there were inquiries about me going professional. And the reference was to, if I went professional, it would be something around $40,000 contract. And I immediately walked out, said, no, thank you. Goodbye. I can make $40,000 as being a manager at McDonald's was what I said exactly. <laugh>, 

Phil Wharton (01:11:31):
 Good for you. Yeah, good for you. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:11:33):
 And I said, no thanks. I didn't come to college to get to work that hard to get 40k. I'm sorry I, that 

doesn't add up for me. I don't love track and field enough for that. 

Phil Wharton (01:11:43): Right, exactly. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:11:43): 

And so that's what I told them. And I was getting ready to leave the office and they said, but there was a butt, they said, if you beat Sonya Richards, that goes to that deal turns into a six figure deal. Ok, and I said, who's that? <laugh> I'm just telling you the true story. 

Phil Wharton (01:12:01): 

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DeeDee Trotter (01:12:03):
 True story. They said, I said, and who's that? <laugh> And they said, the girl. They said, the girl you just 

ran with at the World Championship. I said, which one? 

Phil Wharton (01:12:17):
 Oh, DeeDee, That's great. That is great! 

DeeDee Trotter (01:12:20): I'm so serious, Phil. 

Phil Wharton (01:12:21): That is great. I love that. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:12:23): 

I was a walking blank. Okay. I just was so selfishly focused, I just could not jump on the track and field bandwagon. I just was not in it for the titles, the names. The recognition. Or I could care less. I just got second place to the girl, at NCAA's. I just got third place to her at USA's. I just ran on the World Championship team with her, and I still could not put a face to a name. I just did not know. 

Phil Wharton (01:12:52): 

Yeah. Well, a lot of athletes could learn a lot from this of be coming up instead of diving into social media and trying to pay less attention. Hey, self referral it starts with an internal here. God's giving you a message he's telling you to run, but he's not telling you to pay attention to other people. So focus on right on what you're doing on burning that one lap around a track. Which by the way, is one of the hardest events in track and field. For those that don't know <laugh>, one of the grueling races in track. So 

DeeDee Trotter (01:13:21): 

Absolutely it is the beast of all beasts. This is the monster of the That's right. Track and field. And That's right. I couldn't figure out who was, and they were like, just don't worry about it. The girl that was at NCAA's, and they just started putting locations to it. I said, oh okay. I said, now what's the deal? I just gotta beat her? And they were like, yeah. And I said, done. And I walked out the office. 

Phil Wharton (01:13:46): Yes. Bring it on! Bring it on. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:13:49):
 So I literally love that version of myself. The fearless, careless, not careless, fearless, carefree. Just 

Phil Wharton (01:14:02):
 A samurai. A samurai, a warrior. 

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Yeah man. And very literal. I was such a literal person. How high?, how far?, how fast?, and get out of the way so I can do it. Just move outta the way. 

Phil Wharton (01:14:14): Right. Just set up the blocks. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:14:15):
 And don't say anything stupid. And if you say something that's too stupid, I'll probably use it as 

motivation to to do it even harder! 

Phil Wharton (01:14:22):
 Just tell me I can't, just tell me I can't. Exactly. Don't try to sugar sugarcoat it. It's all go with the mental 

health, let's keep her motivated here. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:14:34):
 Oh yeah. The exact opposite. I was such a fearless warrior, and I was so literal about everything, and I 

was mad. (01:14:48): 

So there's some things you couldn't, like some people they say, oh, if you do this, you do that. You could've beat her. I was so mad internally, I could've beat anybody at that. Right. You right. There was just something in me that was just angry, burning on fire. And I didn't even know I was mad. I, it was just me at the time. That's right. I looked back at it now and I realized it. I was working with some internal frustration and things like that, but at the time, this is just who I am and this is just how I am. I walked outta the office, I said, I just gotta beat that girl from Okay, done. Done. And I walked out. 

Phil Wharton (01:15:25): That's Amazing. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:15:26): 

I told them, these are exact words. I said, I can make 40 K as a manager at McDonald's. No thank you. No thank you. I don't, don't see myself working that hard outside, running around for 40K. No, thank you. So I was, they say, oh well, hold on, there's a but. 

Phil Wharton (01:15:42):
 On the table here. Yeah. Yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:15:43):
 You beat this beat this, You beat Sonya Richards. You, it's six figures. I said, now you're talking. Done. 

Let's go. For a whole year I trained just to beat her. Phil Wharton (01:15:53): 

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<laugh>. Let's go. Yeah. So this was at the next, at the NCAA. Was this outdoor that you won the NC's 

against Sonya? 

DeeDee Trotter (01:16:02):
 Yes sir, 2004. At University of Texas, on the biggest headwind I've ever seen on the back stretch. 

Phil Wharton (01:16:09):
 On her home track into a headwind 

DeeDee Trotter (01:16:11):
 On her home track, and broke her school record. Her track record. 

Phil Wharton (01:16:15):
 That'll get some attention from some agents, and some shoe companies, right there. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:16:20):
 And at the time, she had already kind of set her deals in motion to go pro in '04. And this was another 

pivotal moment for track and field because 2004 was the shift for women's track and field. 

Phil Wharton (01:16:33): That's right. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:16:35):
 $40,000 contracts went to 80k to a hundred, to a hundred plus. And from then on, it's never looked 


Phil Wharton (01:16:41): That's right. That's right. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:16:43):
 We were at pivotal moment for salaries to be respectable for women's track and field. 

Phil Wharton (01:16:53):
 That's a, it's a monumental moment. That was a monumental moment. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:16:57):
 And as I crossed the finish line that day, and Sonya crossed the finish line that day, and Monique 

Henderson, crossed the finish line that day. We became history makers, so to speak. I guess you can say. 

Phil Wharton (01:17:15): That's right. Absolutely. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:17:16): 

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And I would sign that five year deal with Adidas. Sonya would sign with Nike, I believed. And I think her contract was already in motion to some degree, kind of similar. Everyone had an expectation, something motivated them to go and make something happen. And I got home and it's just another mental thought. I got home and I saw the commercials leading up to the Women's 400. And it was like Sonya Richards, Monique Henderson, who will win the Women's 400? And they did this cool side by side thing where Sonya was running on one side, and Monique was running on the other side, and they had a split screen thing going. And I was like, oh, that's funny. I was like, <laugh>, <laugh>. Guess they weren't counting on this crazy maniac. 

Phil Wharton (01:18:01):
 I love that. The ghost. The ghost, yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:18:05): 

The streak of orange that no one saw coming. That's so fantastic. That race is one of my favorite races because it was more about running smart than running to win. There was a backstretch, it was a huge storm at Texas that year, made us cancel one of the rounds. It rained and flooded and everything you could, lightning and thunder. It went on so long that they couldn't continue the meet. 

Phil Wharton (01:18:33):
 They delayed, ok so they took out the semi? 

DeeDee Trotter (01:18:36): 

And I don't remember if they took it out or if they did a combination or I don't remember how they repaired the day, but we lost that lost the first round and somehow we had to make it up some kind of way or they did something to make it right. And going into the final, that weather was just atrocious. And it brought in a wind that I've never, I don't think I ever raced again with the wind that strong on the backstretch. Oh my goodness. And I remember seeing Sonya and Monique just blazing down the backstretch. They were in such deep competition with each other I think , and maybe they saw the commercials? Man 

Phil Wharton (01:19:15):
 <laugh>. Right. They believed their own hype there.
 Maybe they saw the commercial. They believed themselves. Yeah. It was just them. It was just them. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:19:24): 

Yeah, I Guess. And they definitely weren't counting on me to get in the mix, so that's great. They were gone. They were a good 50 meters ahead of me. I feel like when they came around the 200 turn and I was on the back stretch, this wind is ridiculous. I remember just being in my own world and everyone was gone. I was in last place coming around the 200, coming to the 200. And then as soon as I felt the wind cut off of me, I was like, oh, now you go. 

Phil Wharton (01:19:57): Ok 

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I took off and it looked like I started a whole new race, and they were worn out from running in that back stretch. There was no wind there. And I ran right past them in the last 50 meters. It came up goodbye, and it was over. 

Phil Wharton (01:20:18): 

And what a defining moment that just catapulted you into international prominence there, with the ability to get that contract, to continue even reluctantly, but to continue. And it becomes a breakthrough for women's sport, not just so it's bigger than you at this point. So you're sort of fulfilling that purpose. And take us to that other low point, DeeDee I know that in 2008 now, what was the actual injury? The knee surgery, there was a disruption, there was a hole in your femur? I mean, what actually happened? What led up to that? 

DeeDee Trotter (01:20:57): 

So initially we thought I had you'll read articles and things, and I'm glad I get a chance to clarify this. You read articles that'll say the car door hit me in the knee. And I think relatively accurate yeah, the car door did bounce back and hit me in the knee. But I think it hurt because the injury was already there. 


And in hindsight, I just kind of look back and it just, Femoral Defect, is what it's termed. And basically the, it's like the layman's term is you have a hole in your femur, and it's at the tip where you're in the inside where your knee is at. And this surgery is called microfracture surgery. At the time, it was relatively new, relatively new procedure. And it was a one shot. You do the microfracture surgery. If you somehow interrupt that healing process, you don't get a redo. It's a one time, give it a go if it works, good for you. But they were saying at the time, 90% of athletes don't actually recover from this to perform the way they used to. 

Phil Wharton (01:22:06):
 That was very early on in the microfracture surgery. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:22:08):
 Yep. Yeah. Yep. It was very, very early on. It didn't have a good success rate at the time. And well, it 

didn't have a good success rate for the athlete being able to come back and be like, world class. 

Phil Wharton (01:22:21):
 To return, turn to the sport. Yep. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:22:23): 

Yeah, exactly. That level. So it's success. Are you able to walk around and be normal? Sure. Yeah. But are you going to be able to long jump and do all this kinda stuff? Probably not. So the surgery and the injury itself for me came outta nowhere. I didn't hurt myself. I was just normal one day. And the next day my knee was swollen, and then I'm looking for explanations. I'm like, how did this happen? And I'm still, to this day, I don't really know how it happened so much as it's just not there one day. And the next day it was. 

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Phil Wharton (01:23:01): So

 Maybe repetitive stress. And then the car door was sort of the straw that broke the camel's back and 


DeeDee Trotter (01:23:07): 

Possibly. Possibly. Yeah. Exactly. And when I think back, I'm just like, I just never have any, I had no warning for that. It was no warning. I didn't have, oh, this is bothering me a little bit, or this is bothering me a little bit. Or Yeah, it's just nothing there One day and not one day it was, wasn't there one day and the next day it was. So that surgery happened in fall of 2008, but not after I gave it one more go because hearing that it had a low success rate, I said, well 

Phil Wharton (01:23:41):
 You thought this is your final figured out. Yeah. This is my final go at it at track maybe. Yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:23:48): 

Yep. So I better try to figure it out with the hole in my knee. So the fragments were in the knee the fluid space of the knee. We could do the microfracture, I mean the scope, but if we open the knee up, I'm not going to be able to come back for the season. No way. So it was just a matter of having to run with it. I had an awesome orthopedic surgeon. He was Dr. Gregory Mathian. He is one of the key people who made 2008 a possible season for me. And I say one because everybody was on this train. Benny Vaughn was on the train to, to help me get right. Yeah. I had so many awesome therapists who just really went above and beyond to try to make sure that they could help me with minimizing all of the impact and just everything. Even the company that was really on the brink at the time who were newly introduced to the into sports was Don Joy, and now, you know, won't see NFL, I mean you won't see college players. Everyone's wearing Don Joy braces. Right. It's the thing. So 

Phil Wharton (01:25:09): 

Yeah, I love how you give, how give credit to all your therapists and all the Absolutely. The sponsors and the people. So it warms my heart to see that as a longtime therapist in the sport to, so it's so great that you're honoring us and understanding that we're the team behind the dream and sometimes don't get 

DeeDee Trotter (01:25:30): 

Absolutely. There is absolutely 0% of a chance of doing anything that I did from 2004 all the way to the end of my career without the chiropractors, the massage therapist. And I had my Knoxville team, Dr. Petty, Kim, I mean there is, so my Knoxville team, <laugh> was everything for me. I had, it's just a really phenomenal group of people who dedicated their countless hours, and made it affordable to be there every day, or every other day. Yeah, that's right. They dedicated their lives to us. 

Phil Wharton (01:26:20): That's right. That's right. 

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And if you don't see it that way, there's you, you're missing the bigger picture. These people are dedicating their lives to help you live your dream. 

Phil Wharton (01:26:28): That's right. It's a mission. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:26:31):
 So Kim, Phil, Dr. Petty, I wish I could shout out every single one of 'em, but it's just so many wonderful 

people I've come across that I have a Rolodex of awesomeness in my phone. 

Phil Wharton (01:26:40): That's so great. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:26:42): 

So yeah, I ended up coming back in 2008. I fought my way to, fought my way to the Olympic team and it was not an easy journey. I failed multiple times along the way. But that journey gave me the story that I'm still sharing to this day around the world, with people of all ages, all walks of life. It is literally the cornerstone of how I was able to create a turn one blessing into another, basically. 

Phil Wharton (01:27:19): 

That's right. Because basically that idea of the adversity advantage, DeeDee, is all those things that you came through have come to define you. And it's so beautiful when you tell your story at these amazing speeches that I've gotten the pleasure of seeing, not live unfortunately yet. But I wanna see one of your things live because it's so moving as you speak from the heart, because you've suffered, you've been in that suffering and you've come through the other side, through God's grace and through what you've been able to manifest through the mission. And take us through what happened after this post-surgery of 2008. Because I think from that point leading up to this amazing 2012 campaign, something like for three years you didn't win a race, people don't understand it. It wasn't just magical. Here I am 2007 national champion. Okay, I'm just going to arrive. I'm the stuff. And you come back and you know, realize, hey, I'm not the same athlete yet, and you've gotta crawl back. Take us through some of those feelings and emotions that are happening. What was that process like of coming back? 

DeeDee Trotter (01:28:33): 

The comeback created what I now call a, mental champion mindset. Great. And now I've created an entire program around helping other athletes get to the mental, to really harness what it means to be a mental champion. And I took everything from 2008 to 2011 and almost parts of it was very difficult. Cause I started to lose in many ways. I was losing races physically, I was losing confidence. I was losing supporters. I was losing money sponsors. I lost my five year contract with Adidas. Ended up having to sign a deal with Sacony for three years. It was a three -year deal with Sacony. And it was for 50% less than what I was making with Adidas. And there was a lot of the surgery. It did what it was expected to do. She's not going to be able to come back. She should retire. People started, like I said, you started to lose your supporters confidence, everything. And 

Phil Wharton (01:29:45): 

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Because on paper it's supposed to be a career injuring injury. I mean, that's on paper. And so here you are moving through that and saying, look, I can, I will. Yeah. I must. And those exactly things that you've lived by. And it's just a remarkable, 

DeeDee Trotter (01:29:58): 

I kept pushing, I kept pushing Phil, even though everything was saying, everything against me was saying, this is over. It's a wrap. Something in me kept saying, keep trying. You can, you will keep going, keep going. And I decided that, I kept trying to be I think you mentioned this earlier sometimes you just have to change with, with change. And when life changes, you can't keep trying to be who used to be anymore. You gotta find a new way to win. 

Phil Wharton (01:30:29): That's Right. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:30:30):
 And when I took that mentality into effect, I said, just start over. 

Phil Wharton (01:30:36): Beautiful. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:30:37):
 Take everything that you have gone through. It's the blueprint. That's right. It's the map. 

Phil Wharton (01:30:44): That's Right. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:30:46):
 It's not something to dwell on. It's not something to be sad about. It's not something to depress you. It 

is the blueprint of what it's going to take to win. Go back through the map and pull it together. 

Phil Wharton (01:31:00): Fantastic. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:31:01):
 Yeah. Find the treasure at the end of the, where the X marks the spot, you know what I mean? 

Phil Wharton (01:31:05): That's right. Yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:31:07): 

And so I went back through and I used all of the hurt, all of the disappointment, all of the failure. All of the loss. Three years of getting lost after loss. I couldn't break 51 seconds outdoors. I just was in a impossible rut. And as I approached 2012, I literally mapped it out. I started to write everything down. I 

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started to put everything written in a place where I have to see it every day. I started to speak over the 

negativity. I started to speak positive mantras. 

Phil Wharton (01:31:47):
 So now you're changing your brain. So now you're doing this biohacking and getting Yep. Yep. You're 

doing that brain elasticity and you're using the mantras. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:31:57): 

Mental champion mindset. I'm creating a mental warrior, because physically I was doing okay. And I didn't realize that I had these mental barriers because I'm so used to being a mental, I'm so used to being a beast. 

Phil Wharton (01:32:12):
 Right. Just being able step in and go. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:32:15): 

Yep. Exactly. And I needed to change my mental infrastructure because I also needed to change my mental approach to my physical approach to training. So everything had to be revamped. So I left Knoxville, I moved to Orlando where Coach Carol had relocated to U C F. She had been coaching virtually with the help of Coach Norbit Elliot, who was coaching me in the physical. And him and Carol were working together to create workouts for me. I did not want to leave Knoxville 

(01:32:51): (01:32:51): 

during the years of early years of my surgery because that's where my entire support system was at. My personal trainer, 

Phil Wharton (01:33:00): Surgical team. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:33:03): 

Yeah, everyone's there. And I felt like it would just debilitate my career, and give me less of a chance of recovering if I left all of these people behind. And keep in mind, I'm making 50% less than I was before. So having people who are loyal and dedicated to That's right. To just helping me get better. Where if I go to Orlando. 

 They're in on the mission. Yeah. They're in on the mission. They're not Yeah, exactly. Worried about the 

monetary gains. Yeah, (01:33:24): 

Exactly. And so I ultimately put together a new strategy. I went to Orlando. I met a weight training coach there who was I think he may be at Georgia still now, I'm not sure. But he's an awesome coach. And he was able to help me get back into Olympic lifting without re-injuring myself. 

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Perfect. Corrective exercise moving forward, getting stronger. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:33:55): 

Absolutely. And the mental game. And then there's the spiritual side as well. Reconnecting with God in a way that helped to create those positive mantras on a day-to-day basis. And fantastic. It was through those situations and those different changing moments or the change, the shift, I should say. The shift in mental preparation, mental champion mindset that I was able to get over that hump is what I should call it. Yes. And in 2012, I started out the year running indoors thinking, oh yeah, I got this. And I ran indoors and I ran 51. 77, I was like, oh yeah I'm back. 

Phil Wharton (01:34:50):
 Yeah. That's a great opener, yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:34:51): 

On a high horse. Yeah. And then I was getting ready. I was like, coach Carol was like, well, you're good now. You can just wanted to see if you know how your training was going, so you're good there. And she's like, you can shut it down. I was like, no, I wanna go to USA's. So I go to USA's, and I'm so glad I went. If I hadn't went to USAs, I wouldn't have discovered what I ended up finding out. I was running in the race and I made it to the finals and the gun goes off. I'm running around the track the first lap and Natasha Hastings. Yeah, I believe it was Natasha, and I believe it was even Sonya that year who decided to run indoors. But I could be wrong. But definitely Natasha Hastings came flying past me on the turn. And when she passed me this voice in my head said, shut it down, it's over. And I was like, what? Now mind you, I've never heard this voice before and I've definitely never heard it in a race. 

Phil Wharton (01:35:54): Okay. Okay. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:35:56):
 So, It was super loud and clear, and it says, shut down and my body listened 

Phil Wharton (01:36:02): And you just shut down. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:36:04): 

And I shut down for a hot second. And I said, what? I was in a mental tug of war with myself during the race. So for a split second as she passed me <affirmative> muscle memory kicked in from all the years of getting passed at that point, right. In the results being what they are. No matter how hard I tried that when I physically had the ability to not, to actually do something about that situation. 

Phil Wharton (01:36:28): To keep moving. Right. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:36:29): 

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The muscle memory of the repetitive loss kicked in. That makes sense. It spoke so loud. It said, shut down, it's over. And my body listened for a split second. It shut, shut off. And I was like, what? And the other part of me that's awoke and completely conscious, right? Was like, no, no. Right. And then I surged up again. And then it was like, you're not going to catch another voice. You're not going to catch them. I was like, and it shut down and the body shut down again. I was like what the heck? 

Phil Wharton (01:36:58):
 So there's this foot on the gas, foot on the brake idea, with the neurologically and these old neural 

patterns of thought too. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:37:08): 

Yes. It was unbelievable. I had never experienced anything like it before. I was in a mental race with myself, the entire race I lost clearly. Yeah. I believe I got second or third. Second or third. I can't remember. Third, maybe it was third. Cause I wanna say Sonya was in the race that year. She doesn't run indoor very often, but I wanna say she might've run. 

(01:37:29): (01:37:29): 

And her and Hastings I think they got first and second. And I believe I got third. And I was so mad that I lost. And it wasn't because they beat me. It was because I beat myself. Right. I couldn't figure it out. And I was like, that has never happened to me before, and it will never happen again. 

Phil Wharton (01:37:51): There you go. Yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:37:52):
 And I would've never exposed that mental confidence issue or the repetition of loss that had created 

this muscle memory of physical shutdown in me that, If I hadn't run that race. 

Phil Wharton (01:38:06): 

It's a huge awareness moment. It was a huge awareness, a huge just to find that out in a really, essentially a race that doesn't matter. Exactly. If you take into consideration what's going to matter outdoors for Sure. For the trials. Right. 2012 trials and into London. Wow. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:38:23): 

Absolutely. And that's why that race, I'll never forget it. It was the turning point of coming back from three years of loss, three years of failure. It lit the fire in me to say, you have to do something. You were unaware. You thought you were good. You thought training was great. You thought you got a new weight coach, you thought everything was great, and you didn't realize that your head is messed up. Right. And this game is 90% mental 

Phil Wharton (01:38:53): And there's 

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And I said ok. 

Phil Wharton (01:38:54): 

Some old demons, old ghosts that need to be sort of identified and reworked through that process that you developed, which I think was so beautiful how you were able to, cause I noticed I was watching your 400 meter final. I remember it, like it was yesterday in the 2012. I wasn't at the games that year, but I watched it here where we live out here in Pennsylvania. And you're, you got that mantra right there. I think you're reciting Philippians from 4:11-13. I think you're Yes, sir. You're going through that. It's just so beautiful. I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me. That's right. You're saying that right on the line. You can see your lips moving. It's so beautiful. And if you watch the race, I mean, you almost won that race. I mean, you always were like at 350 meters, you are clearly in the lead. 


I mean, it's just a beautiful run. It's a beautiful run. It's just incredible to see, coming from 2008, the career is, she says, Hey, everybody's saying hanging up. This is it. You had a great career, but that's it. And then you just rebuilt yourself mentally, spiritually, physically, all these things emotionally coming together. And it all manifests from the bronze which as you said very beautifully, is it just another shade of gold, which I believe a hundred percent. Yes. And then the gold medal in the 4x400, which you let off against the former Olympic champion from Great Britain, which I, I just saw. Yeah. And 49.4 I mean, it was a beautiful lead off leg. And that's the dream team. That was 

DeeDee Trotter (01:40:36): The dream team. 

Phil Wharton (01:40:37):
 Handed it off to Allison Felix. I mean, come on. It was amazing. Sonya, the anchor, I mean. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:40:42): Francena McCorory. 

Phil Wharton (01:40:44): 

Yeah. All y'all. I mean, the slowest. The slowest. Slowest, right. Yeah. The slowest, the 49, I mean 49 4. Come on. I mean, that's 3:16,.88. I mean, yeah. I mean, that was just historically just incredible. If we look at your journey, I mean, as a pastry chef now, valedictorian from the Atlanta Institute, I mean, amazing. What's most important to you now? And what does the road ahead look like and what's next? 

DeeDee Trotter (01:41:17):
 Man, Phil, that's a wonderful question, and I think it's a necessary question for me to answer, because I 

think I need to hear the answer. Okay, 

Phil Wharton (01:41:25): Okay. Good. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:41:26): 

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Phil Wharton (01:41:27): Yes. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:41:28):
 The goal right now is to try to, again, live in the purpose of my gifts. 

Phil Wharton (01:41:39): Yes. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:41:40): 

And one thing that I miss about track and field, people always ask me, do you miss running? Do you miss track and field? And earlier I told you, I physically made sure I didn't have that desire. Right. I made sure I ran every inch of gas out of me. 

Phil Wharton (01:41:56): Yeah. Wow. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:41:57): 

But it's not what I miss the most about running. What I realized is that, and what I've come to realize is that, and I actually realized it many years ago, which I think was a beautiful part of connecting with loving the sport, was that as I use my gift, I'm in closer connection with God. 

Phil Wharton (01:42:20): That's right. That's right. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:42:21): 

And that is one of the most I would say it's the most missed aspect of not running track anymore. That makes sense. Being out on the track, no matter how hot, no matter how cold, no matter what the conditions. Yeah. When you're out there and when you're using your gift. 

Phil Wharton (01:42:43): Yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:42:44):
 I don't know how everybody else functions, but I feel closer to God, I feel, yeah. I feel his presence. I feel 

his essence everywhere. 

Phil Wharton (01:42:56):
 Like an electricity, it just fills you up. It's just like an energy. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:43:00): 

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Phil Wharton (01:43:01):
 He's coming through you and all around you, and it just feels like you're in the right moment. It's right. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:43:07): 

Absolutely. And I feel lucky to be honest with, I feel lucky, yes. That I have these experiences where he feels real. And there's days, many, many days, many years, even since I retired, where without that, as I go through day-to-day life without running as a part of my day-to-day activity or without track and field, I should say, it's really not the running without the sport as a part of my day-to-day life. I don't get those moments. I used to get them all the time. Yes. And so course, there's these gaps. There's these times I almost have to work hard to create 'em. I have to go on nature hikes and you know like. Find these quiet spaces. 

Phil Wharton (01:43:59): 

Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Find these quiet. Right. You're so used to pushing yourself and feeling that presence through the suffering that you don't get as much. But now, the long hours, I imagine as a master chef, I mean, the long hours of getting up super early, another super hard profession. And I noticed, please, y'all go to dtrott400m, on Instagram and you will see the most amazing <laugh> beautiful pastries. I mean, one of 'em has a little Starbucks, I mean super creative Starbucks Cup in it. And I was like, got the hip hop behind it, super cool music. And I'm like, I gotta get to Atlanta. I gotta sample this Woman's Mastery. I gotta 

DeeDee Trotter (01:44:36): Thank YOU! 

Phil Wharton (01:44:38):
 So it's just amazing at the Druid Hills Golf Club. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:44:44):
 Yeah. That's where I'm at now. But I also have my own business I do from home. So if you can't get into 

the golf club, which you have to have a membership, that's 

Phil Wharton (01:44:52): Okay. Yes. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:44:53):
 Okay. If you don't wanna join the Hills Club Club for hundred thousand dollars a year, you can be a 

member too. 

Phil Wharton (01:45:00):
 No, I won't be in the golf club, so I'll be able to Yeah, 

DeeDee Trotter (01:45:05): 

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If you can't get there, you can go to and I'm there. 

Phil Wharton (01:45:10):
 Taste of Gold Bakery. I love that. (01:45:10): 

DeeDee Trotter (01:45:12):
 Isn't it a great name? So
 Taste of Gold, and my slogan is, greatness has a taste. 

Phil Wharton (01:45:17): 

Greatness has a taste. Well, we'll put all that liner, that liner notes. It sure does. Because if you go in there and see that, you'll just immediately, all your senses will come alive and you'll say, you know what? This is really remarkable. I need to sample this. And if we look at the slipstream, looking back at your life, DeeDee, any parting gems of advice you'd like to leave for us here on Intrinsic Drive? 

DeeDee Trotter (01:45:43): 

Yeah, man, I feel blessed to have gone through such a journey of so many different ups and downs. I'm glad I didn't have the straight path that had no <laugh>. Right. No humps or impedance along the way. Otherwise I wouldn't have anything to tell you right now. I would say my biggest advice to anyone is basically to let your failure be the blueprint of your success. Beautiful. Take everything that you have gone through, everything that you feel maybe has tried to stop you along the way. And if you've given up on your dream because you failed, because you've lost, because you've been disappointed, because you've been hurt, because you've fear, because you have doubt. All of those things are simple motivators if you learn how to transform them into positive power. And what I learned to do is to take all of those things and put them under myself. I use them to climb on top of, instead of letting them get on top of me and push me down and destroy me. I use those things to push myself to the next level. And everyone has the possibility to do this. It's just a matter of getting into your own head and saying, I can, I must, I will, I can, I must, I will. 

Phil Wharton (01:47:16): Right. That's just.. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:47:18):
 Those words have been. I'm getting emotional right now, because as I'm trying to tell you 

Phil Wharton (01:47:24): Yes. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:47:25): 

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What has created that mental champion in me. These things are not something that stops. You can't just think that if you go through the training of mentally getting yourself strong, and to get through something one time, that it's going to last you a lifetime. 

Phil Wharton (01:47:40): 

It's not one and done. It's not one and done. It's a constant practice. And that's constant. That's what comes through you, is that you are just a champion of this interdiscipline, of allowing God's beauty and the grace to come through you in that hard work. And I love what you put forth about the container. That box that you have in one of your talks that you brought forth in this graduation of 2020 was the middle of Covid. And you're speaking virtually to these students and you're saying, look, y'all it's not about the external box or how it looks on the outside. This is a beat up box that holds something. And I wanna show you. Doesn't look great. There's blemishes. It's all scuffed up. It's been through the wars, but when I open that up inside is gold. And that's you. That that's your essence. That's your essence, 

DeeDee Trotter (01:48:41): Absolutely. 

Phil Wharton (01:48:42):
 Essence. And I think that you're teaching us so much, and it's just such an honor and a blessing and a 

privilege to be with you. And I so appreciate your time on coming to the show. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:48:53): 

And Oh, thank you, Phil. It's been an absolute honor to speak with you. And thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story in a way that's very transparent and Yeah, it's so real. So real. I just like to tell those are the parts of stories that people won't know. And often when you get a chance to tell your story, it's always polite to polish some of those things out. But if at some point you just gotta tell your truth. Right. And as long as you're respectful, let it be the way. That's right. So I thank you for giving me the platform to do that. And I also wanna thank you for letting me have this opportunity to mention some of the great people that had a lot to do with. I, I'm being, that's not fair. Had everything to do with continuing to keep me functional throughout my career. 


I was trying to talk about the coach at Georgia, that he's at Georgia now, but he was at UCF, that's Coach Sinclair. He's the reason I was able to get back to Olympic lifting. Fantastic. And Brett Moldenhauer was my acupuncturist. He was the reason I was able to even really stand up and walk for a long time. Yes. So there's been so many people, and I would love to acknowledge 'em all, but I just want to thank you for at least giving me an opportunity to mention some of them and highlight how awesome they had been for me throughout my career. Abe Kiggins was my personal trainer for many years. He took care of me on a day to day basis. 

Phil Wharton (01:50:31): Wow. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:50:31): 

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Yeah. Everything for years. And so he was part of my career from the beginning, from Tennessee all the way to the end. Well, all the way until I moved to UCF, so just so many people. I just wanna thank you that I got a chance to mention them today. 

Phil Wharton (01:50:50): 

Well, it comes through, receive to share, and you're living that. You're living that. And so where would be the next place that we can find out about one of your speaking engagements DeeDee, where were would we find out about that? 

DeeDee Trotter (01:51:05): 

So, I'm doing this wonderful speaking. I've been a motivational speaker since I retired, and it's been so awesome because it's like I get to do all of the running without physically running. I tell the stories and I get to tell relive it so many times. 

Phil Wharton (01:51:19):
 You're so amazing at it. So amazing at it. So inspirational. Yeah. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:51:23): 

Thank you. So I've been booking since Covid. I was really busy before. I was literally around the world, but Covid came and slowed everything down quite a bit. But things are really picking back up. So Great. I have started booking more events for 2022, and I'm already booking for 2023. 

Phil Wharton (01:51:47): Excellent. Okay. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:51:49): 

So you can go to, and you can submit an inquiry for your event, or you can actually call, and we can get you set up and see if we're available for your date. I just, I would say I specialize in motivational motivational talks or keynotes. Yes. And it's really for any group, Phil, no matter the age, no matter the demographic, it does not matter. My story crosses borders. And it's the story of a champion, and it's not the champion that we all are so familiar with. It's the champion that every person actually has access to just being the best version of yourself. And so that is the story that I tell. I help people understand how to win on all levels. I help people understand the journey from the bottom to the top, and I help them believe in themselves. And I have been so blessed, I think if I ever had to say what two things God gave me that just really have been natural gifts. One was running, and then two is being able to tell the story of that journey in a way that crosses all bounds. 

Phil Wharton (01:53:05):
 And you're very succinct and you just get right to the essence of it. And I love that. It's so 

DeeDee Trotter (01:53:10): Thank you so much 

Phil Wharton (01:53:11): 

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Powerful and adjusts to any demographic, as you said. And so we'll definitely drop that in the liner notes of, and you'll find a place to put the inquiry and book the next event. So we'll see you soon. Thanks for being with us. 

DeeDee Trotter (01:53:27):
 Oh, you're welcome. And thanks for having me. 

Phil Wharton (01:53:30): 

Thanks for being with us. We appreciate you opting in, subscribing, and reviewing us, for thumbing us up, and following us on socials. Liking us. We like you, drop us a note. Tell us what stories move you. For books, videos, resources, and more information. Visit us at And be sure to join us for the next episode of Intrinsic Drive.