Alyssa Jackson (track & field) signed with Brown University on May 3. She has been running for eight years, going all the way back to the 4th grade.
"At the time, I did not view the sport in a competitive sense, but strictly recreational," she said. "All of the girls would sit around laughing with one another and the dads would bring push popsicles for the end of practice."
On her journey to find her niche, Alyssa tried ballet (but couldn't stand the tights), gymnastics (was not a fan of the beam), and swimming (but didn't enjoy water up her nose), before finding her spark in soccer.
For awhile, soccer was her main focus and her dad coached her recreational team, the Pink Ponies.
"I loved soccer," she said. "I was a forward and my brother was a goalie so when we practiced together, I would get better at my shooting skills while he got better with his blocks."
She was fast on the soccer team, so her parents wondered if she would be fast on the track. And she was!
"My first race was a YMCA Track Meet held at Southern Methodist University," she said. "I remember being extremely nervous as I had never run at a meet before, but as soon as I was given the signal, I took off blazing around the track! That was my first taste running in a 400m race."
What does she love most about track & field?
"There is nothing more enjoyable than racing and being able to put your body into second gear or speed," she said. "One of my events is the 200m, and every time I hit the curve, I continue to accelerate, and I feel powerful, and I get a burst of energy like Lighting McQueen!"
If she were to offer any advice to student-athletes, it would be to continue your sport if you enjoy and find happiness in it.
"At the end of the day, I am the one putting on the spikes, I am the one fighting the mental battles, and I am the one continuously putting my body through the pain and challenges that comes with track & field," she said. "Make sure your mind and heart are in it, because otherwise, it is a waste of your time and energy."
She continued, "I also want to mention the importance of separating yourself as an individual from the athlete. It can be extremely easy for your sport to turn into your identity, which adds a lot of pressure to perform and peak every single time. For me, I still struggle with separation, and I have to realize that my family and friends love me for me, not because of my sport."
Alyssa is excited for her next adventure at Brown, looking forward to the new atmosphere of Rhode Island and adjusting to a different lifestyle and climate.
"I am also excited about the new dynamic of being a collegiate athlete as well as establishing a relationship with the coaches and my teammates," she said. "I look forward to some of the traditions on the Brown Track & Field Team as I have experienced many traditions with my Ursuline soccer and track teams."
She hopes to study International Relations or Economics, with goals of pursuing a pre-med track. "But we will see!" she said.