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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    The Throes of Love

    Married track and fielders Zach and Nicole Lloyd take a break from practice last Wednesday afternoon at Drachman Stadium. These UA juniors were high school sweethearts and have been married for two years.
    Married track and fielders Zach and Nicole Lloyd take a break from practice last Wednesday afternoon at Drachman Stadium. These UA juniors were high school sweethearts and have been married for two years.

    As Valentine’s Day approaches, many young people at the UA will begin their typical and sometimes silly courtship routines. Others will stand as the true representation of what love is all about. And it just so happens that one of those couples compete on the same athletic team.

    Meet Zack and Nicole Lloyd, two throwers for the UA track and field team who also happen to be married to each other. In 2004, the two met like many of today’s youth, albeit at a track meet in Utah.

    “”I had my friend go get his number for me because I was kind of nervous,”” Nicole said.

    Like all love stories, however, it’s never that simple. There remains one person responsible for Zack, now 23, being on the field that day and this same person is also responsible for the two competing for the UA three years down the line.

    Enter Craig Carter. At the time, Carter was the throwing coach at Utah State and Zack was the top high school discus and shotput thrower in the country out of Ely, Nev. Coincidentally, his high school coach happened to be a former athlete of Carter’s at Utah State and so when it came time for recruiting, there was little doubt as to where Zack would go.

    Nicole, 22, was a native of Farmington, Utah and attended Utah where she competed for the track team. Since Carter coached professionally out of Utah, Nicole had attended many of his camps during her high school career and knew him fairly well by the time she entered her freshman year of college.

    Before Zack even arrived at Utah State, Carter had left in order to focus his training on professional athletes. The pieces had been set in motion, however, and Zack decided to compete despite losing his coach. This decision eventually led Zack to Salt Lake City for that fateful meet where Nicole worked up the nerve to get his phone number. Seven months later the two were married.

    Unhappy with their schools on top of struggling with the responsibilities that face young married couples, Zack and Nicole dropped out of their respective universities and picked up full-time jobs in order to get by.

    Eventually, they approached Carter in Provo and expressed their interest in getting back into competition. Carter made some phone calls down to his connections at Mesa Community College and within the year the two were competing again while regaining their eligibility to come back to Division I.

    In October 2007, as the two were wrapping up their associate’s degrees, word reached them that the UA’s track team had just picked up a new throwing coach who, coincidentally, wasCarter. It should be no surprise as to who the first two athletes he recruited were.

    “”Without coach Carter, there is no Zack and Nicole on this team, there is no question about it,”” said UA head coach Fred Harvey.

    And just when the reunion seemed to have come full circle, problems began to arise. Zack’s mother passed away the year before he came to the UA. Without much of a father figure in his life, he was left with very few people he could trust. But Carter said that the support he and Nicole provided was strong enough to help Zack cope with his loss.

    “”Maybe he doesn’t look at me like a father figure because maybe I’m not old enough,”” Carter said. “”But he looks to me as a figure he can talk to, look up to and come to if he has a problem.””

    The fact that the two are married has its benefits in the competition environment, they said, because they can count on each other at the times when Carter is not available.

    “”Before Zack got his hands on me, I didn’t think I was very good,”” Nicole said. “”When we didn’t have a coach freshman year and didn’t get along with our coach at Mesa, he was there for me and he saw the potential in me and coached me and gave me confidence.””

    Zack currently holds the third-highest mark in the nation in the indoor shot put level, and will likely be a contender in the NCAA Indoor Championships March 14-15. Nicole has come a long way under Zack’s and Carter’s wings and helps anchor a strong women’s throwing duo with teammate Megan Howard.

    The couple’s plans after college will likely depend on Zack’s success, Nicole said. If all goes well, he may have a career in throwing and eventually become a coach while Nicole hopes that her career will land her “”in the weight room.””

    A future family life also seems certain for the two.

    “”I want kids, but it all depends,”” Nicole said. “”I just don’t know right now.””

    Replied Zach: “”Oh, you know we’re going to have them.””

    And with the genes of two throwers, there seems to be little doubt as to what their children’s sport of choice would be. Zack insisted that he wants his kids to go into whatever they desire, although Nicole said otherwise.

    “”Those babies are going to come out with a shot put,”” she said.

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