University of Mary women’s track coach Mike Thorson said Tonie-Ann Pandohie is the best athlete he has coached in his 36-year career, but the All-American athlete had a tough transition from Jamaica to Bismarck.
When Tonie-Ann decided to leave Kingston, Jamacia and attend the University of Mary, visions of New York and Los Angeles ran through her mind. She quickly realized she was in a different place.
“Flying over different cities you see the lights looking all beautiful,” Pandohie said, “but when we reached Bismarck it was all empty.”
Tonie-Ann committed to the Mauraders without visiting the school. She traded a tropical climate for a not so tropical climate. She also didn’t have any friends, lucky for her, a high school teammate was still at the school.
“I didn’t come here with any winter jackets and stuff like that,” Pandohie said. “She was there to make sure I had everything to stay warm.”
Being 2400 miles from the people she grew up with made Tonie-Ann homesick. She thought about transferring after her freshman year, but she changed her mind.
“If you’re there for me from day one,” Pandohie said. “And you push me and make sure everything is going right and make me a better person. I would just feel I’m betraying coach so I didn’t.”
Her decision turned out well for the university and Tonie-Ann. Now she’s an All-American in multiple events. And she even developed into a 100-meter hurdler, an event where she holds the school record. Not bad, when she didn’t compete in the hurldes in high school.
“She’s an athlete that’s probably improved for me than any other athlete I’ve ever had,” U Mary Coach Mike Thorson said.
Tonie-Ann will compete in five or six events at the Northern Sun Championships which start on Friday.