Salute To Seniors: Michelle Atherley - Port Charlotte High School

The 2014-2015 school year has provided some great highlights in both cross country and track across the Sunshine State. In the coming weeks many of our seniors will head out to start their college careers both athletically and academically. We wanted to salute them one more time in this special feature and say thank you for your support over the years.

Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?

My biggest competition would have to be Kimani Rushing and Timetria Mitchell. Both are amazing hurdlers and have pushed me to be a better hurdler. They are pretty cool people as well lol. It was always nice to experience running with the best in the state, although it didn't happen often it always turned out to be a great race.

What was your greatest accomplishment?

My greatest accomplishment throughout the last year would have to be receiving a full track and field scholarship to Auburn University. A year ago I would never have seen myself perusing track and field beyond high school let alone getting a scholarship out of it. So being able to accomplish so much and have my schooling payed for really is the best thing I have gotten out of track and field. I'm blessed to have this opportunity and can't wait to see where it takes me.

If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running career in high school?

One thing I would definitely change is running with fast lane track club the summer of my sophomore when I first started track and field. Being apart of this club has a given me a complete 180 turn around in the kind of runner I am. There is no way I would be where I am without this family and had I joined it sooner who knows what more I could have accomplished.

What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?

Beginning track and field as a sophomore really meant I had one less year to perfect my craft. I was successful on the track simply because I was athletic and my coaches put in the effort to teach me. I really had no idea what I was doing nor what it all ment. With my lack of seriousness in the sport and experience in my first two years, I was left with a tough senior year ahead. This past year, Working with fast lane opened my eyes to the possibilitys in this sport and with hard work and determination the grind never stopped. Working with fastlane also ment a long 3 hour drive to the other coast of Florida, West Palm Beach. Over all I've had to work with I was given and trust in God and my coaches.

What will you miss the most?

I will miss the long track meets with my teammates, being a sort of mentor to the newbies, meeting new people and my coaches. They have put in as much if not more effort into my success as I have and I can't thank them enough.

What advice you would give to younger athletes?

My advice would be you are your own athlete. If you want something to happen YOU and only YOU can ensure it does. It is your body and your sport. Hard work does pay off and never give up no matter what. The moment you do any possibility of you reaching your goals disappears. Believe in yourself and your ability, Love and appreciate your sport and those that make it possible. Most of all enjoy yourself.Time flys so make the most of it.

What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?

My high school coaches have given me the work ethic to push myself and the support through every meet. My club coach Derek Walker is like a second father to me. He helped me evolve into and athlete I never imagined possible. He put forth his knowledge and expertise that has ultimately gotten me a college scholarship. Giving his all to his track club is what makes us successful and we know without him we would not be the runners we are. He's allowed me to see the ability I have, thought me to believe in myself and pushed me to be ambitious. He has forever influenced my life.

What are your college plans?

I will be running track and field at Auburn University this fall with a major in political science and a minor in business.

Who would you like to say thank you to?

I would like to say thank you to my mother for all of the sacrifices you have made and for supporting me and loving me unconditionally. Thank you to my friends and family for supporting me and making high school such a great experience. Thank you to my highschool coach Bethany Haslam and club coach Derek walker for pushing me and ultimately being the catalyst to my future as a track and field athlete. Also thank you to all of the amazing athlete and people I have met through track. It's great to know that we are able to compete as a family and call ourself a track nation.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Onto bigger and better things. Until next time Florida. "Put God first and the rest will follow."

More Coverage