The official launch day of the Sport Fuels Life podcast has arrived and our first guest is the perfect way to kick things off right!

Dr. Markita Suttle shares her academic, athletic, and professional journey with Sport Fuels Life and opens her heart to reflect on some of the challenges that come from being of mixed race. As a former NCAA All-American hurdler for Otterbein University who is now a pediatrician critical care doctor at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, Markita understands the hard work it takes to accomplish goals. 

Sports defined Markita at an early age. Suttle’s athletic career took off in high school as she varsity lettered seven times during her participation in softball, basketball, and track and field. Growing up in a predominately white community, she says she  felt embraced and supported by teammates and amazing coaches.She said sports was a “saving grace” and helped shield her from a lot of discrimination and racism “by bringing a sense of pride to her community” and gaining respect for excelling in athletics. 

College is where Markita truly “began to love the sport” of track and field for the long hours spent training and competing with teammates, along with the valuable life lessons it taught her. A 10-time All-OAC Conference performer and 100-meter hurdle record holder at Otterbein, sports at the college level prepared her for a future beyond athletics by teaching her  how to prioritize her time demands between being a full-time student-athlete and holding a job. Markita states that “you have to be really good at prioritizing and balancing your life in order to excel in all of those areas”. Years of practice at time management and discipline in Markita’s track and field career have set her up for success  as a researcher, pediatric care doctor, a mother of two children, and a wife.

Describing herself as  “one of the most competitive people you will ever meet”, Markita “learned very early on that it was fun to win and be the best at things.” Her determination  to win outweighed her “quieter tendencies as a child” and helped  develop leadership. The interesting side Markita’s leadership roles as a black student, athlete, physician, and female, is that it came with “this invisible barrier”. As many people of color experience, Suttle felt that it was “not enough to just be good” and that she had “to excel beyond that”. This led to a great deal of pressure to “smash any stereotypes” to combat any doubt in her qualifications as a straight-A student, decorated athlete, and respected professional. 

Suttle reached a big turning point in eighth grade, where she “really found her voice” and could stick up for herself with racial issues. In college, Markita entered another stage in her personal growth by realizing that her performance had to be for herself, rather than seeking the acceptance of others. Her determination to succeed paired with a healthier self-acceptance propelled her to the outstanding successes and happiness she has achieved today.

Take a listen to the full episode below and leave us some love in the reviews to help get the word out about this exciting new element of the Sport Fuels Life community! And if you know a coach or athlete who would make a great guest on our show, click here to tell us about them!