Juliann Williams is a junior at Beavercreek High School in Ohio. She was a varsity member on the Beavers' Division I state championship team in 2018, and is a multiple-time state qualifier and finisher at Ohio's Track and Field Championships. She writes about the friendships, and the adversity, that have kept her grounded through her running career thus far.
Sure, I run to run. I run to get better and I run to be competitive. But I also run to make myself proud, to make my girls proud, to make my city proud, and most of all, I run to make the little girl who is tying her pig-tails and getting ready for the swing-set--and who one day who will be a runner, too--proud." -- Juliann Williams
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By Juliann Williams - Beavercreek High School
My friend, what a journey it has been. From my pig-tailed third-grade self racing on the playground, to the years I've spent growing in high school--including all those trying injuries--to coming back and becoming an All-American with my best friends in the 4x800 last year.
You were there for me.
I remember finding you when I was just 7 years old. You quickly changed my life.
Starting with family 5Ks around the neighborhood, it quickly led to the Junior Olympics, where I fully embraced you and met lifelong friends that shared my same passion. There was no looking back, because even then you gave me a vision of what my future could hold.
I often think you're my greatest love story. There are times when you bring me immense joy and pride, and there are other times when you bring tears of frustration, and then there are moments when you make me sick to my stomach.
But you have seen the best and worst in me.
You have seen me grow, both as a runner and as a person. And these friendships? From such a young age, you've been the bridge that's bonded us together. You've brought me memories I can cherish forever.
Since we've been together this long, we were bound to have bumps in the road. The greatest things in life always come with a little adversity, right?
When I moved to Beavercreek in the eighth grade, there was nothing I looked forward to more than being part of a team of high school girls who shared my same crazy love for this sport.
But as always, dreams and reality don't always meet. There was a different plan for me.
My freshman cross country and track seasons were both held back by injury. I got used to the boot that I was in during my freshman cross country and indoor track season.
But while missing the majority of those seasons was a huge disappointment, it reminded me of something critical: There is more to this sport than the runs. It's the friendships, the van rides, the team dinners, and the time spent on the playground between races.
Without the love and support of my teammates and coaches--who never failed to make me smile at practice every day--it would have been easy to lose sight of why I was doing what I was doing.
Sure, I run to run. I run to get better and I run to be competitive. But I also run to make myself proud, to make my girls proud, to make my city proud, and most of all, I run to make the little girl who is tying her pig-tails and getting ready for the swing-set--and who one day who will be a runner, too--proud.
After a year of patience, persistence and becoming stronger than ever, I found myself celebrating with my family, friends and coaches after reaching the podium at the Ohio Track and Field State Championships in the 1,600, 4x800, and 4x400. As a sophomore.
Only four weeks later I was up on a podium with three of my best friends--who had just left their hearts on the track--and we became All-Americans at New Balance Nationals Outdoor.
I knew you wouldn't let this come easy. Over that span spent off the track, you made me learn how to fuel, how to recover and how to prepare my body mentally and physically. You lit a fire within me to become the best version of myself.
But it's these challenges that have made me who I am.
Sure, the success stories you have given me are cherished and beloved, but they don't define me, either.
Going through injuries, I had my teammates' shoulders to lean on; in turn, I have learned to be the teammate whose shoulder is strong enough for anyone else.
I consider myself blessed to have been a part of this sport for so long.
You have taught me more about myself and this crazy life than I could have ever learned on my own. I have learned, first and foremost, that anything you love is worth fighting for. I have learned to always cheer for my teammates and to pick them up at the finish line.
And I have learned, and I will never forget, that it is indeed 100-percent worth it to stop and go down the slide during cool downs (Don't tell Coach).
You keep me grounded. You keep me patient. You keep me believing.
And for all of that, I want to thank you.
Juliann 'Julz' Williams, Beavercreek '21