On the Fast Track

Carol Long

Doctoral Student

Curriculum and Instruction

College of Education



Carol Long has three decades of teaching experience and two adult daughters, but only the faintest trace of gray hair framing her face would hint that she is much more than 30 years old, herself.


Perhaps, it’s the remarkable exuberance emanating from the petite Jamaican making her eyes sparkle and her voice sing that helps give that impression. Because when it comes to energy, Long can keep pace with the fastest men on earth.


A native of a Caribbean country that boasts sprinting as its national sport and has produced three Olympic gold medalists in the field, Long has been fiercely committed to helping develop the next generation of track and field athletes in Jamaica throughout her teaching career. She is certified in track and field by the International Association of Athletics Association, and since 1980 – the year she earned a Teacher’s Certificate in physical education and biology from Jamaica’s Shortwood Teachers’ College – she has been living and breathing the sport as a coach, mentor, educator and administrator attending scores of track meets and touching the lives of countless athletes.


As part of the management team for the association that shapes the development of track and field in Jamaica – the Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association’s (JAAA) – Long has served in a variety of administrative positions, including most recently as director of the JAAA’s Bureau of Records. Over the years, she has travelled with Jamaican national teams to competitions around the world: the World Youth Championship in Sudtriol, Italy; the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) Games in the Turks and Caicos Islands and St. Kitts; the Pan Am Games in Cartagena, Colombia; and the Pan American Junior Championship in Windsor, Canada, to name a few.


So ask Long about the young people she has befriended over the years, and she’ll fondly tell you about amazing athletes such as three-time Olympic gold medalist and world record holder Usain Bolt. In keeping with Jamaica’s rich story-telling tradition, you’ll hear a lively tale about the first time she saw him compete at the World Youth Games in 2002, or witnessed his first world-record at the CARIFTA games in 2004. She’ll tell you that he’s “lovable, gentle and very playful,” and that earlier world-record sprinter Asafa Powell is “somewhat quieter” but nonetheless intense.


Despite the staunch commitment to her country’s young athletes, Long has temporarily placed those activities on hold to come to the United States to pursue a doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction from USF’s College of Education. It’s not the first time she has been a USF student. Long participated in USF’s master’s degree in early childhood education program in Jamaica– a joint venture with Shortwood College that brings USF faculty to Jamaica to provide intensive instruction over the course of three consecutive summers.


During the course of the program, Long met USF Associate Professor Roger Brindley and shared with him information on the research she was doing regarding movement education – a subject she has taught in elementary and middle schools, as well as lectured about at the college level. Long believes that this non-traditional approach to physical education that incorporates movement and dance is highly effective in helping children develop emotionally and intellectually.


“I found that it was a wonderful way to teach that made students want to come to school, so I started doing some informal research to support that observation. Dr. Brindley encouraged me to record my findings, and because of my interest in research, to pursue a doctoral degree.”


She applied to USF, but says she was so anxious about being accepted that she didn’t even tell her husband. “I wanted to wait until it was ‘in the bucket,’ because I didn’t want the bucket to spring a leak!”


Now, into her second year in the United States, Long is working as a graduate assistant in the Early Childhood program, using her years of experience to help guide undergraduates through their first internships. She is beginning to identify ideas for her dissertation and, for now, is interested in the subject of play, and how it helps children develop cognitively, socially and emotionally.


While she returns home to Jamaica as often as possible, Long stays in touch with many of the athletes and past students she has come to know and love over the years, including Bolt.


“I’ve developed some very close relationships with many of them,” she says. “It’s wonderful having friends all over the world.”


Mary Beth Erskine covers business and education. She can be reached at 813-974-6993.