Before the class of 2019 makes their final farewells to high school cross country and track and field, we want to give everyone a chance to salute them one more time! FLRunners invites all seniors to tell their stories from the past four years.
What was your most memorable race?
My most memorable race would have to be the pre-lims of the 60M dash at New Balance Nationals Indoor this years (2019). My time of 7.33 was a personal record and it allowed me to become top ten in the 60m for high school girls at the time, and even though that time and rank was a big step in my track career; that race was the most memorable to me for other reasons. Going to New York and the few days leading up to the meet, my coach (Coach Walker) he kept telling me "You're times going to be fast and unexpected for prelims!" or things like "Your'e going to pr big time" and giving me times he believed i was going to run. In all honesty, I thought he was more so encouraging me; I never thought what he was saying was going to happen. For many reasons such as the personal record I had before and I had not ran too many indoor meets since New Balance. But he kept telling me why and how I'd run the time, and I never fully understood why until after the race. So I ran the race and after I looked up at my time and I looked up at my coach and my team members and we all had the same expression of amazement. I'm so grateful for this race because it made me realize so many things that I knew already but didn't actually do to the best of my ability. To trust my coach and listen to every word he says and to never doubt myself. My coach believed in me and he knew what I could do. I wanted it but did I fully believe It could happen? No. After that race, I learned that I need to fully believe in myself and my coach.
Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?
People perform different every single day. You never know whats happening in their lives such as an injury, family matters or etc that could affect their performance on the track. I try not to focus on anyone but myself during a race. The goal is to win/obtain a personal record. In order to do that I have to stay confident in myself and focused on what I can do and need to do during the
What was your greatest accomplishment?
I would say my greatest accomplishment would be receiving a gold medal in the 100m dash at New Balance Nationals, which allowed me to be All-American for the second time this year. I was having hamstring problems that started after my county meet during the season, this was a set back practice wise and for other reasons. But I put my trust in god and my coach and worked hard for the rest of the season. I had to stay diligent and patient and it all payed off for my last 100m dash of high school. I was truly blessed that day, and I couldn't be more thankful.
Who would you consider your biggest role model over your four years competing?
I would consider my biggest role model for my whole life to be my mom. I do not know anyone who has worked harder than my mom. If I told you my mom's life story I'd have to write a book. Every practice, every track meet I go all out and I try my best because I know it means immensely to my mom to see me succeed and I feel I owe it to her for all she has done for my family and I. My mom has been encouraging me my whole life, what ever the sport may be or test I might take; I can always count on her to be there for me. Seeing her excited and delighted by me running track and field pushes me even more in the sport. She is the strongest person I know, and my very own real life superwomen.
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome? How did you overcome them?
During my junior year the first meet of the season I pulled my hamstring and I was out for about a month and a half to heal and rest my leg. Going back into practicing and running at track meets was very difficult for me because I had to learn to be patient with my abilities and my times. My coaches, family and friends helped me during this tough time to not give up on my goals, because there were times where I felt defeated and had no hope for myself but they kept me going. That same season I was able to make it to states and place seventh in the 100m dash. Then the next year I placed first in that same event at states. This obstacle taught me perseverance and it magnified the love I have for this sport
What will I miss the most?
On the travel club I run on (Fast Lane Track Club) it has people from different schools all over the county and state that run on it also. So during high school season when we would run for our high schools at track meets it would be so fun to help each other out, support and cheer for each other at meets. Because even though we represented different schools we were still a family at heart.
What advice would you give to younger athletes?
If you aren't feeling well physically or mentally tell someone, either it being a coach or a parent. That's one of the ways injuries and other problems can happen, from miscommunication.
Stay humble, but also don't forget to appreciate your wins and personal records.
Track and field can not just be a sport you are good at, you have to love the sport to continue to grow in it.
Lastly, never forget about those who have been there for you. A support system is so important in track and field, it helps you extremely.
What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?
My coach (Derek Walker) is another role model in my life. He is equivalent to a father figure, but not only to me but also to everyone he trains on his travel club. His life story is an inspiration. His determination and just the energy he gives off to everyone he trains is so uplifting. Not every meet is a good meet, but no matter what he reminds us that we can't put ourselves down because something doesn't go how we wanted it and that our hard work will pay off. Coach Walker believed in me at times where I didn't even believe in myself. For example, after I pulled my hamstring I started doubting my recovery and just my future with track and field; while he never stopped encouraging me throughout it all and never gave up on me. I want to thank him for helping and showing me my potential in this sport. I consider myself to be fortunate and blessed to be coached by Coach Walker. There are so many other things that he has done for me and my family and I don't know where I would've been right now and what I would have achieved without him and Fast Lane Track Club.
What are your post-high school or college plans?
I will be spending the next four years of my life continuing my academic and athletic career at the University of Miami!
Who would you like to say 'thank you' to?
I'd like to thank God, my mom, Coach Walker, my sisters and brother, Mrs. Sha'Kiena and Mr. James Ward, my church family, my best friends, fast lane family and the coaches at Palm Beach Gardens High School and everyone else who has been there for me. Much love and a sincere thank you to the people who have supported me to the point I am now, for not everyone is destined to have people that wonderful in their lives.