By Jahquez Durham

I’m blessed.

God has placed so many wonderful people in my life. Without their support, who knows where my life would have taken me.

I had the fortune of a strong support system that had a tremendous impact on my path.

And the biggest supporter of them all was my mom.

My #1 Fan

My parents separated when I was about three years old, and my mom pretty much raised my siblings and me by herself. She was always my primary rock.

One of the most important things in her life was her faith. No matter what obstacle she faced, she always relied on her relationship with God to get her through.

Seeing what Christ did for my mom and how he kept her strong through hard times made it easy for me to follow her path.

But even though I trusted her on a lot of things, I didn’t initially follow her advice on picking a college. My mom, like any other mom, obviously had her own opinions.

And from the moment Liberty came for the in-home visit, she was encouraging me to go there.

But I didn’t listen.

That’s right. I initially committed to attend another college. But, for some reason, I couldn’t sign my commitment letter when it arrived. It just didn’t feel right.

So, I did a lot of praying and thinking. It was then that I knew I was meant to go to Liberty. Immediately, I reached out to Coach Pete to ask if they still had a spot for me on the track team.

And fortunately, they did.

Coaches & Friends

I was so excited about my new home and the chance to run at Liberty. Track has always been a vital part of my life.

Even my mom ran track back in the day.

However, it was my uncle who really pushed and trained me. Without him, I certainly wouldn’t be have been a collegiate athlete.

Uncle Ricky also ran track in college. He went to Florida State, where he is now the sprint coach. When I was in middle school, Uncle Ricky became my track coach and role model. He pushed me every single day to become better. It was tough sometimes, not going to lie, but I’m beyond grateful for his support.

And one of the best parts of working with him? I not only had the chance to run alongside some of today’s top runners in the world, I even built great friendships with them.

Tyson Gay, Teahna Daniels, and Marvin Bracy, for example. I learned so much from these guys and what it takes to leap to a national level.

This opportunity was priceless. Even today, I still talk to Teahna and Marvin just about every single day. I love how track helped me build lifelong friendships.

When it was time to move to Liberty, it was obviously challenging to leave my surroundings behind.

After all, Uncle Ricky and my friends have guided me through pretty much every single step of the way.

So, as you can imagine, it was a bit challenging at first.

But fortunately, from the get-go, I found another great supporter in Coach Pete.

He has been instrumental in my progress as both an athlete and a person. Over the last few years, he has even become a father figure to me.

When I came to Liberty, I still had a lot of pain and anger inside of me. Many experiences in my life have led me to resent different people and things. I used running to express that anger and release frustrations.

But now, Coach Pete has helped me find other ways to cope. He taught me that I could focus all of that negative energy into Christ, how much I love him, and everything he can do for me.

This advice has been a game-changer for me. Coach Pete has shown me that there are so many different ways to handle everyday scenarios. It’s been really easy to learn from him because he’s always accepted me.

And best of it all, Coach Pete has never judged me.

Coach Pete has shown me that there are so many different ways of handling everyday scenarios. It’s been really easy to learn from him because he’s always accepted me.

My Future

This may not come as a surprise right now but due to all of the life-changing support I received from my mom, uncle, friends, and coaches, I want to play that same role for other people in their lives.

And ideally, for one group in particular – children.

First, I want to become a pediatric physical therapist. Every child deserves someone in their life who pushes them on every level.

As a pediatric physical therapist, I’ll have that opportunity.

Secondly, although it might be a bit unconventional, I want to inspire via dancing. That’s right. I’ve always had a passion for it. After some initial hesitation, I joined the hip-hop dance team at Liberty and have not looked back.

Dancing has even opened a lot of different doors for me. Last summer, I was invited to Los Angeles, for example, and got to train with some of the top dancers in the world for a week.

Now, I even have the opportunity to go back there and teach choreography to kids this summer.

At the end of the day, I don’t have all the answers yet.

What I do know is that I’m going to make a difference.

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