SO this is kind of a recap of my journey 🙂 Hope you like it!
A lot of the time people think that it is all about sinking that game winning shot at a buzzer, or beating that person by a millisecond in a race to win your team a national title. Whichever the case, a lot of the time people myself included make their sport their identity. It stars to define who they are even in day-to-day activities and consumes the identity that god created for them.
Growing up my mother always made us go to church and bought us bibles with attempts that we would one day read them, but let’s face it, the “ye old times” was just not attractive to an eight year old hyperactive girl who would choose to play outside over anything in a heart beat. After being a student athlete at APU, going on a sports missions trip that changed my life, having god humble me by striping away track and field and my mother’s recent passing, I have come to the understand that god makes the plans for your life, you do not. And most important he has one for everyone.
There are so many people that have been a part of my experience at APU, family, friends, coaches, teammates, etc. But there is only one person that really contributes to whom I am, and really, who I have become and that is god.
It was not always cookie cutter for me and I had some struggles being at APU and trying to balance what it means to be a Christian Athlete. It took some getting use to, but for a while there was a sense of not belonging just because I was so different from most people there. My teammates, other athletes on campus, coaches Barnett and Reid as well as the athletics program really helped me open up and show the bubbly fun loving personality that I have.
As I grew more outgoing, I grew more popular, and the more that happened the more pressure I placed on myself to perform well and win. My first year I was already a multiple all-American, the following year I was a national champion in 100m hurdles. I was determined to be the best but still very young minded in regards to what that really meant.
As the time went on I got better and better and started to completely disregard that God was the one that gave me that ability. Losing two years in a row for a team title indoor was heartbreaking, especially when you are the one in the race at nationals that gets called a “ TIE, allowing for the split of 2nd place points and you lose a team title by one point.
That feeling is something that I did not want to happen again so I made up my mind to do whatever it took to be the best, even if I had to cut people out to make it happen. I completely separated myself from the team and focused on me. I ended up winning a national title that outdoor season, thinking I was on the top of the world because I was the best in what I loved doing and everyone praised me for it.
The following year I was on a mission to repeat my title. I needed to make sure I scored as much as possible for the team at nationals like I “usually” did. We ended up winning that year, but at the expense of me getting sick during the entire competition and not being able to do my best, not making finals in hurdles the event I loved the most, and not winning like I had trained so hard all year. For
I felt really bad because I was struggling and because I had created this attitude that I only cared about myself. I fell hard with know one willing to pick me up because of my attitude. They still loved me, but I can say they did not like my attitude. In my eyes if you don’t produce you’re not important right? No one cares about the loser of a race. I was so wrapped up in my life being over because I did so bad and worked so hard that I never thought all year that I could get hurt, not once did I think god could just come and take my talent away. Literally my life had been sucked out of me and I became a black whole with no identity. All that I had known and created for myself was gone.
My life was track and field and I had failed. At what I thought was the lowest point of my life, I was given the opportunity to go on a mission’s trip to compete in Fiji. With the help and guidance of one of my teammates and best friends John Ellis, and a coach in our conference I was given the opportunity to let god move in my life, and marked the change from me being a student athlete at APU, to an student athlete in Christ.
I ended up injured that year and was not even able to compete at my best at nationals. It was honestly the first time I have never been an All-American . But as saddened as I was I would not have traded that year for anything. It was so humbling to have what I held so tightly taken away and for a good reason. I was able to make relationships with people again, gained respect back from coaches, and more importantly I did everything that I could have done for God.
The fire in my heart was still there and I felt that God might not have been done. Bryan Clay had been telling me all year when I was at his practices, Tiff, you need to start coming-out early with us! I think it would be good for you. I just kept in the back of my mind because it was Bryan Clay, he didn’t really think I could do this did he?
After we got back from nationals I went out while Bryan was still training during the summer. I saw the work that he put in and listened to things that he would tell me, he even ran me through a work out the day that I stepped out on the track and I thought I was going to die! Is this really what I have to feel to be good?
I knew at that point he was willing to help me use and find all the potential that people for so many years had been telling me that I had.
After numerous hours of training in the weight room and doing long runs during the summer I came back in August. 16 days into the start of august and a season that was suppose to be “the season” My mother passed away. The person that supported me the most and who understood when I could not be there for family events was gone. The Last thing that I had from her was a letter that told me “ Keep running until god tells you to stop, and ill be at the finish line waiting for you”.
Completely broken I debated running I didn’t know that God was trying to show me. I prayed to God that night and asked him to completely take track away if I am not supposed to do it anymore.
With that said I sat down with Coach Reid and Barnett and asked them flat out… “ Do you think that I can keep going, can I do this”? The last thing that I wanted to do was put in the work if I really didn’t have the talent or right mental drive to complete it and get to trials for 2012? Then I text Bryan and told him everything that was going on and how I needed his help this year and that I am committed to doing this because it was what my mom wanted and if I stop all it will have been for no reason. With everyone agreeing to help support my decision I have started my journey of being an Olympic hopeful.
Every day I get to go out to the track and see people like Jake Arnold, Bryan Clay, and Dominique Degrammont who train each and every single day despite how tired they are. We are all like a little family that keeps the other person up when they are falling behind. More importantly we are there to believe in each other when sometimes we don’t believe in ourselves.
By generous donors I have been able to compete at USA indoors, a chance to travel to Canada to compete in the Pan American Games/ Thorpe Cup competition in order to get the necessary scores needed for the 2012 Olympic trials.
With out God, family and the support of everyone around me financially and through prayer I would not be able to make my dream happen.