Tech. Sgt. Khalid Mulazim masters life in the fast lanes
By Senior Airman Ann Wilkins Jefferson, 910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs / Published December 06, 2007
YOUNGSTOWN AIR RESERVE STATION, Ohio --
Editor's Note: This is the third and final installment ina series of feature articles focusing on one of the 910th's own, Tech. Sgt. Khalid Mulazim, winning a national championship in track and field. Sergeant Mulazim is a military pay technician as well as a teacher, coach, father and triathlete.
Tech. Sgt. Khalid Mulazim is always running around - literally and figuratively. He's the reigning men's 400-meter dash national champion in the masters 40-44 age group. He's on the go as a math teacher for all four grades at Shaw High School in East Cleveland. He helps with Junior ROTC cadets at the high school. And he's a Traditional Reservist here as a military pay technician.
As if he isn't busy enough, the sergeant also coaches track and cross country teams for Shaw and the Rebels Track Club in Cleveland Heights.
"Rebels is a summer track program where we instruct youth about track (ages preschool through college). We've had some famous people," he said, mentioning Jessica Beard, a four-time state champ in the 400-meter dash, world championship competitor and full scholarship recipient to Texas A&M University in fall 2007; and Teddy Ginn, a standout Ohio State football player in 2005 and 2006 and now in the NFL.
One of Sergeant Mulazim's current track prodigies is his own seven-year-old daughter, Zamyrah, who has competed since she was three and helps her father train, timing him on the track.
His girlfriend, Jamie, a former Ohio State track athlete, a Cleveland Heights High School track coach, a fellow Rebels coach and a potential '08 national masters meet competitor, also helps.
"She gives pointers to me. Like, at the national meet, she saw some things I needed to fix. She has been very helpful in assisting me with my training and my mental preparation for competition."
Early this year, Sergeant Mulazim signed up with the Southwest Sprinters Club based in Houston, Texas. SSC invited him to join after seeing him compete at meets. The club pays his entry fees to events like the national competition but counts on him to train on his own.
Aside from track races, the sergeant cross-trains by competing in triathlons. A lifeguard and former high school swim coach, he swims in a city pool near his home and is always running, he said.
But as for logging miles on the bike? No time, he admits. During triathlons, "I just jump on the bike and wing it."
Normally for high-level competitions you can't just wing it. Entrants for major track meets usually require a qualifying time but not the national masters meet the sergeant ran in August, which was his first appearance there. However, his first-place finishes in previous races helped, such as Guatemala in 2006 and Puerto Rico in 2004 for the North Central Caribbean World Masters Association meets. The NCCWMA includes countries in the Caribbean area, including the United States, Caribbean countries, and Mexico. The U.S. is hosting next year's meet, scheduled in Florida, which Sergeant Mulazim said he plans to attend. The age category he's in varies from race to race; sometimes it's 30 and older ,sometimes 40 and older. And he receives no prize money, just awards.
As if his schedule isn't full enough, the sergeant was just selected as Shaw's head boys' basketball coach.
Carolyn Quarles-Brown, the school's athletic director, said "I wouldn't even have known he was interested in basketball until I posted the position. He said he had experience coaching girls' basketball and played in college."
That low-key demeanor is typical of him, Quarles-Brown said. She didn't even learn about his accomplishment on the track scene until someone else told her.
"He's not that kind of person," she said.
However, Quarles-Brown described Sergeant Mulazim as "very disciplined - it's one of the reasons he was chosen for basketball."
She said some of the kids weren't used to the sergeant's level of discipline, and "a lot of the kids gave him resistance at first, but they're coming around. I think he's an asset to the program."
"An asset" is a fitting term for someone who works with math and finance in his civilian and military jobs. He said his goal in civilian work is to continue to teach. As for racing? He is working on gaining more sponsors to help pay his airfare and hotel costs for next year's national masters meet in Spokane, Wash. And he still hopes to one day make that Air Force track team. With his example of the Air Force core value "Excellence in All You Do," Sergeant Mulazim could serve as a great role model and an inspiration to the young guns on the squad - that is, if they can keep up with his accomplishments off the track as well as they do running laps with him.