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Meet Kendall Gustafson of LeapFrog Sports

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kendall Gustafson.

Kendall, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I began running track when I was 11 years old. I grew up playing every sport imaginable but found something very pure about track. No matter where you were from or what you looked like, track was all about the numbers-something that no one could argue, and everyone could be apart of. I tried almost every event and found that I loved them all and simply could not choose until I learned of an event that encompassed all of them: the heptathlon.

The heptathlon is comprised of 7 events: the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200m, long jump, javelin and 800m. This multi event, which is contested over two days, is scored against a point table. At the end of the event, the points for each event are added up, and whoever has the most total points is the winner. This event, unlike others in track and field, favors those who are the most well-rounded athletes. It takes speed, strength and jumping ability, no one more than the others. As soon as I found the multi-events, I immediately took to it and haven’t looked back.

I grew up in Mar Vista and attended Palisades High School, but regularly traveled to all ends of LA for track meets, picking up friends and experiences along the way. I was a successful high school athlete, winning numerous LA City Championships and several Youth and Junior National Championships in the heptathlon. After my senior year of high school, I made the US Junior Team and traveled to Medellin, Colombia to compete for team USA in the Pan American Junior Championships.

When it came time for college, I chose to get away from the West coast and attend Duke University, where I would run track and compete in the heptathlon. However, I found my time in North Carolina to be quite difficult. I suffered injuries, mental difficulties and homesickness, and after two difficult years, decided to come home for the sake of my health.

I found a second home and chance at UCLA, where I was welcomed with open arms. I showed up very fragile, and while it took a little time to find my footing, it was somewhere I was able to thrive. My time at UCLA was by no means perfect- I suffered multiple serious injuries and had knee surgery after my first year. But because I was happy and motivated, I continued to fight for my track career. It wasn’t until my 5th and final year in college where I found my first modicum of success. I finished 4th at the 2018 NCAA Championships to become a first-team All-American in the heptathlon.

Although my college career was not everything I dreamed it would be, my final year showed me that my body wasn’t done quite yet. I decided to continue my journey and venture into the harsh world of post-collegiate track and field. Unlike other professional sports, track athletes aren’t paid for simply showing up. There are very small amounts of prize money and sponsorships available, and most athletes have to make ends meet in other ways, all while training full time. This is especially true in the multi-events, something that the majority of the population has never heard of and are less interested in.

This brings me to where I am today. I am a volunteer assistant coach at UCLA and own my own private coaching company, LeapFrog Sports. I just ended my first season of professional track and finished the year with the sixth best heptathlon score in the United States. I qualified to compete for Team USA in the Thorpe Cup in Germany this past September. I learned a tremendous amount this year, and now turn my eyes to my true goal: the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Any athlete knows that the road to success is never straight. I’ve hit almost every bump possible. Serious injuries, mental health struggles, deaths of family members and dear friends, all while struggling to be my best possible self on and off the track. The only thing that that’s kept me on track has been my support system- my family, friends and coaches. Because of their belief in me, I still believe in myself.

Please tell us about LeapFrog Sports.
In order to support myself through my professional track pursuits, I began my own private coaching company, LeapFrog Sports. It has allowed me to reach out to my community and share my love of track and field. I coach everyone from five years old to adults in almost every track event, as well as general fitness and running mechanics. My vast knowledge of track and field gives me a unique advantage as a coach, and I find that I’m especially successful with young athletes who have a desire to learn multiple events, just like I did. I love people who want to improve themselves in anything that they choose to pursue in life, and I’m so happy I get to be a small part of people’s journeys.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
While this answer may surprise people, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. If I hadn’t gone to North Carolina, I wouldn’t have the same love and appreciation that I have for Los Angeles now. I needed to leave home in order to really understand what a special place it is, and how lucky I am to have grown up and lived here. Through my experiences, I’ve learned that I can’t worry about the things I cannot control. I’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff, and to take every single day as a blessing because I’m not sure how long this incredible journey will last.

Contact Info:

  • Website: www.leapfrogsports310.com
  • Email: leapfrogsports310@gmail.com
  • Instagram: @kendallgus (personal) @leapfrogsports310 (business)


Image Credit:
Don Liebig, Cody Crampton, Susan Gustafson

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