Upon completing my outdoor season the cross country coach reached out to me. He made a good pitch, he told me that if I wanted to be better at the 800m and the mile I needed to build a strong base by logging in a ton of miles during the off season. I decided to join the cross country team that fall, during the summer I would run five days a week, I had learned how to condition myself through track practice. I was very excited for my first cross county meet and also very nervous. I came in last out of 123 cross country athletes at my first meet. I was embarrassed and ashamed of myself. It was at that moment I decided I no longer enjoyed running. I stuck with it, however, I became extremely flakey because I no longer wanted to run cross country. I Absolutely hated running by the time the season finished. I did not join the indoor track team. It was also at this time that a jumper on our team became the best athlete in a school of over 5000 students, not only did he win the triple jump at our state meet, he also won at the national meet.
I used to tell him that I was a better jumper than he was, jokingly of course, but I truly believed that if I was to start jumping full time and with proper training I would be better than he was. I decided to rejoin the track team that spring semester, however, not as a mid distance runner, but instead as a jump. During the first day of practice I went up to my distance coach who really believed in me, he was the person who provided me my first real running shoes. I told him that I no longer wanted to be a distance runner, but instead I wanted to be a jumper, he told me and I quote “You’re not strong enough to be a jumper, you will hurt yourself” he did not say it in a malicious way, he was just telling me what he believed. Track was not the only sport I signed up for that season, I also signed up for volleyball. I was a double roster athlete, meaning I was participating in two sports during the season. I would go to track practice first, I would practice for 45 minutes and then head to volleyball practice.
I was more interested in volleyball because it was more fun and not as hard. A lot of the volleyball games fell on the same day as the track meets, and I would always choose the volleyball games. I put off competing at my first track meet as a jumper for several weeks. Finally at a duel meet I decided I’d jump, I was expecting to jump over 20ft. My first first ever long jump was 19’7.25ft and my triple jump was 39’6.5ft. Those were solid numbers for someone that barely practiced and never competed. I kept jumping those same marks at every meet for the reminder of the season, I even qualified for the county championship for the first time in my track career. I also enjoyed jumping and actually looked forward to the meets. I stayed with both track and volleyball for the remainder of the season.
For our county championship only three athletes were allowed to compete in an individual event from a school. That year I was the second best jumper on the team. I had a teammate that qualified, however he was the fourth best jumper on the team. Seeing that he put a lot more time in than I did and he was also a senior while I was a junior I decided to give my spot to him, he deserved it more than I did, I was just more talented than he was, I didn’t take it nearly as serious as he did. I also figured I can qualify the following year. The last day of practice my coach came up to me and told me that I should only do track the following year and completely forget about volleyball because I had serious potential as a jumper. Since I sucked at volleyball and I had developed a passion for jumping I decided to do just that.
Stay tuned for part four.