A Story About Believing...

A young girl has moved to a new city, which meant a new high school with new peers. However, she still had the same high hopes and dreams: to become a collegiate and professional women's basketball player. As she walked through the doors of Euclid High School, her first concern was when would the basketball tryouts take place and then, would the coaches deem her good enough to play on their team? She would soon find out as basketball season approached rather quickly. She put on her jersey, strapped up her sneakers, and matched up on defense with whoever her 'soon to be' coaches decided. Luckily, for this young girl, her offensive teammate match up would be the 400m state runner-up from the previous year. Even though she was unaware, right then, a new fate was decided and a new dream would surface.

How to BELIEVE....

Freshman year of high school, Jessica would face multiple challenges. Mainly, from her state runner-up teammate wearing the same yellow Euclid uniform. And Heather beat her every time they lined up until they arrived at the regional meet in Austin Fitch. Jessica would win the meet and set a new PR of 55.21, which was tied for the top time in the state of Ohio. In her first round at the state meet, Jessica would face the other young lady that had run the exact same time she had coming into the meet. And boy, did she got whooped, BAD. This loss made her unsure of her capabilities and she questioned her chances of now winning a state title. Fortunately, she had a good friend and teammate tell her "That first race doesn't have to determine the next... and I, with all of our teammates believe in you". The finals of the State 400m dash seemed to be going the same way the first round did. But as they got closer to the finish line, Jessica remembered what her teammate had spoken (that and the girl in first was breaking down a bit! lol). She dug deep inside herself and ended up winning by less than a tenth of a second. In that moment, she believed and therefore became a state champion. She went on to win the 400m state title the next three years in a row [adding a 4x800 state title as well in 2005]. Her senior year in 2007, Jessica won and lowered her own state record by over a second and a half. The time of 51.63 made her the nations top 400m runner. She would go on to win multiple district, regional and junior national titles on her way to Texas A&M University (whoooooooooop).

Moving south across the central plains to perennial track powerhouse Texas A&M, Jessica immediately proved an invaluable asset for the Aggies. As a freshman, Jessica scored for the Aggies, both indoors (taking third in the 400m final), and outdoors (finishing fourth behind three seniors in the 400m final). In between, she won the NCAA West Regional title at 400m, and after the collegiate season, earned silver and gold medals at 400m and in the 4x400m Relay for Team USA at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Poland.

As a sophomore, Jessica improved to runner-up finishes both indoors and outdoors at the NCAA Championship 400m final, helping Texas A&M to the women’s outdoor team championship. By virtue of her third place finish at the US Championships, Jessica earned a place representing the USA at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin, where she qualified for the semi-finals of the 400m, and helped the USA to a gold medal in the 4x400m Relay. A year later, Jessica earned more points for the Aggies, taking second place at 400m indoors and third at 400m outdoors. In addition to her individual efforts, her role on the winning 4x400m relay helped propel the Texas A&M women to their second straight outdoor championship.

As successful as her first three years as an NCAA athlete had proven to be, Jessica saved the best for last. As a senior in 2011, Jessica won eight of her ten finals at 400m, including the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championship finals. Anchoring the Aggies’ 4x400m at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, she led the Texas A&M women to their third consecutive outdoor team championship. Following the conclusion of her NCAA career, Jessica signed an endorsement deal with adidas, finished fourth at the US Championships and earned a spot at the IAAF World Championships in South Korea. In Korea, Jessica made the world championships semi-finals again, and played a key role in Team USA’s gold medal-winning 4x400m Relay.

While injury curtailed Jessica’s plans for the 2012 Olympics, she recovered in time for the 2013 US Championship to finish fifth, and competed at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow, helping Team USA to a silver medal.