Two schools, two years. To say Juan Paul Green's track and field career has been a journey is an understatement. Green, a standout quarter miler at Carol City High School in Miami, ended his high school days with runner-up finishes at the 3A state meet and Golden South Classic. He says graduating from high school and getting a college scholarship to run at the University of Illinois not only made him proud, but his parents as well.
"My recruitment out of high school was tough because I had quite a few schools that offered me and I made a decision based off of the visit at Illinois. Just to be wanted to run at a higher level made me feel like an elite athlete."
While wearing the orange and blue, Green learned about having success in the classroom and on the track. He was named Scholar Athlete of the Week while maintaining a 3.1 grade point average. As an athlete, he placed in the top three at the USA Trials earning a spot on Team USA at the 2013 Pan Am Junior Championships. He also earned first team and second team All-American honors in the 400 meters and 4x400 meter relay respectively. Despite these accolades, he decided to head west to South Plains College, a JUCO powerhouse. He says it was for a better well being.
"There were some personal issues off the track that I needed to get away from. I heard a lot about South Plains and thought it would be a good fit for me. Hearing about their multiple championships also made it an easy decision."
Making the move to Texas, wasn't the ideal situation, but when life hands you obstacles you have to make the most of them. Since being there in August, Green has worked hard to make himself a better person and a better athlete. In his first indoor meet of the season, he ran a nation leading time for 600 yards of 1:10. He says during his time at South Plains he's learned how to manage training hours and classes, while finding new ways and techniques to better his craft.
"I'm staying focused; eating healthy, being organized with studies, and managing time so I can have better recovery for my body. I've been hitting the weights more so that plays a big role in getting stronger and faster. Our coach tells us our time schedule so everything is planned out as far as training. My goal is to graduate with my AA degree and shave two tenths of a second off my 400 meter personal best which is 46.18."
Although it's his first year at South Plains, Green will only have one year of eligibility. Following the indoor and outdoor season he will head to his next destination, the University of Arkansas. He says he chose the Razorbacks over several other schools including the University of Alabama, and hopes he can once again compete with the top runners in the country at the D1 level.
"I learned more about Arkansas after Coach Case visited South Plains. He was telling me about the great program and facilities they have for student athletes. That made me want to go and hearing about Arkansas track and field winning multiple national NCAA titles. At Arkansas I want to accomplish another honor of being All-American and winning a national title.
The journey might not have been ideal, but Green say when life throws you curve balls you have to dodge them and keep going.
"It was tough going through different changes, but the experience was nice seeing new things and places. You control your destiny and shouldn't let anything stop you. With power and strength from above you can overcome trouble lin your life that may be thrown at you. Always remember your goals. That's what kept my will going."