By Calli McMullen, Track & Field
Finding My Peace
By God’s grace, the support of my family and the dedication of my coaches, I am the athlete that I never knew I could be. Being a track athlete at West Point has brought a world of success that I would not have without those who believed in me. Thus, this testimony is for them. I am beyond grateful to have achieved everything that I have, but I honestly did not even think that any of my experiences were possible. In fact, if anyone would have told me as a kid that I’d be running track at West Point, I would have laughed in their face. Little did I know that throughout my entire life, running was in my bones.
I knew from an early age that I could run. In fact, I was good at running. As a child though, I never took it seriously. The city track coach would come to my elementary school every year to host try-outs for his summer team. As a child, I was not aware that they were try-outs; I simply thought it was another day of recess. Nevertheless, even in elementary school, I would beat kids in those races, but every year, I turned down that opportunity. In my family, my older sister and I were the artistic ones, while my older brother was the athletic one. That was how it was supposed to be. My sister was a singer and public speaker, I was the classical ballerina and my brother was the football and track star. So early on, I never saw track as an opportunity. It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school that my perspective changed.
My high school P.E. teachers, who also coached the track team, knew that I was a dancer. They reasoned that I’d be able to contribute to the track team as a jumper. That’s how they convinced me to join. So, my daily routine at track practice involved me warming up and heading straight to the high jump mat, and I was satisfied with this. One day, all the older girls on the team started bickering with each other about who was the better athlete. It became an intense word battle that the rest of the team swore was going to break out into a fist fight.
The head coach, Coach Andre Warthen, who was a smooth-talking southern man, stepped into the middle of the commotion. With a slight southern accent, he calmly stated, “We’ll settle this right now. Everybody step on the line.” When he said “everybody,” I thought he was referring to the runners. I quickly realized that I was wrong as members of every event group stepped up. A flush of nerves hit my body because I had never done this before. Read more.