The Miami Northwestern girl's track team is synonymous with winning in the state of Florida. The Lady Bulls added even more hardware to their trophy case after winning the 3A state championship in 2016, the team's 8th in a row. The last team to get rings as a reward for their hard work was in 2006, that was until this year when 2009 alumni and 2016 Olympic gold medalist in the 100m hurdles Brianna Rollins purchased them for the team. She took to social media afterwards to explain her decision.
"When I ran track at Miami Northwestern we won three state championships and weren't able to afford to get our state championship rings. God blessed me with the opportunity to provide these Lady Bulls with their 2016 State Championship rings. Being able to reward them for their achievements made my heart smile. From one Bull to another. Love you ladies, continue to chase your dreams!
Coach Carmen Jackson has been at the heart of the program. She was an assistant coach from 1980-1991 and has been the head coach since 1992, entering her 25th season in 2016. Through that time she has been a part of 11 state championship teams and says its been a struggle to generate funds to purchase rings and jackets for back to back years of championships.
"The money just was not there. I decided to focus more on being able to travel with the teams year in and year out. Raising money was going to lodging and transportation, and leaving little to no money to even think about rings and jackets."
For Jackson, as important as those material things, exposing her athletes to better competition, college coaches, and ultimately getting college scholarships meant more.
"The joy of being state champs yearly and seeing the seniors go off with full scholarships took the place of not receiving such special gifts. The alumni/boosters have continuously been trying to raise money for those past teams to receive rings and jackets, and it is still an on going process to this day."
Jackson told her staff that if the money was raised she wanted the team and male coaches to get rings and the female coaches to get pendants, a different look for them. She had no idea that the idea would become a reality. She says the whole process was kept secret from her.
Jackson adds that Rollins success and gifts have really made the Lady Bulls team happy and proud. She says it's been a long time coming and well deserved.
"Bri sharing her success with us is too much for words. I know in my heart that what this world need so desperately is people giving in their communities and showing acts of kindness everyday. People like Bri makes this world a better place."
Twanisha Terry - "The rings mean a lot to me coming from an Olympian that was once in our shoes that helped pave a way for us to continue on the winning state trend."