Natosha Rogers is a three time All-American from Texas A&M. 2012 was a year full of accomplishments for her. Rogers raced at the 2012 Outdoor NCAA Championships and won the 10K title. A few months later, Dakota Ridge's (CO) 2009 graduate competed at the USA Olympic trials and earned the silver medal. Rogers was fourteen seconds off from hitting the A" standard to compete at the 2012 Olympics. However, that didn't stop her from achieving her goals. As a professional athlete, she was the 2017 Half Marathon National Champion and the 2020 Cross Country National Champion. She had the opportunity to compete at the World Athletics Cross Country Championships in Uganda. She placed 23rd in this competition with a time of 34:47.
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Natosha Rogers - Professional USA Track Athlete
I am writing to you from many years down the road, with a lot more wisdom and experience. You are still in high school with your whole life ahead of you. Appreciate your roots there. It is there that you will discover a great talent and passion that you will carry on for many years of your life, longer than you would believe!
I know you do not always love running right now and you often ask yourself why you are willingly subjecting yourself to the pain. But you will grow to love running so much that the greatest pain you will ever feel, is when you lose it. Which I hate to inform you, will happen every once in a while due to things out of your control.
You have a drive that can make you feel crazy sometimes. Your drive combined with distance running will result in many injuries in your future. There will be days, even months, that it will hurt to walk, let alone run. In these moments you will feel lost, but do not be overcome with worry or doubt.
Your mind is a powerful thing and your outlook will manifest your life. When you experience this brokenness, when you think you will never be able to run again, hold onto a sliver of hope. It is there, and it will always be there.
Believe it or not, all of this will shape you into a stronger athlete and the moments of glory and triumph to follow will mean so much more. Ironically, all the pain you will endure and overcome will amount to many sweet victories at the highest level.
The fight is what makes it all worth it! So when your heart breaks, pick up the pieces and find a way to live with the scars. When you encounter obstacles, embrace them head on. Be able to adjust to setbacks with out panicking because anxiety will get the best of you, if you let it. Learn to be present, because you are living the dream everyday and no one said the dream was easy!
You will get paid to run because there are people who want to see you represent America on a world stage. They will witness you run at the Olympic Trials in college, where you get tripped and trampled by the pack early on in the race. There will be one second that goes by, that will define your career from that point going forward.
In that second, you choose to get back up with more fire than anyone knew you had, even yourself. You will go on to chase down arguably the most decorated female distance runner to have lived on American soil and place second, beating her right at the line. But you wont get to go the Olympics because you missed the "A" standard by fourteen seconds and they will instead take fourth and seventh place. This will go on to haunt you, but I promise, you will stay hungry!
Your body will go through transformations as you grow into a woman and continue to run. Be kind and accepting. Become aware that any standard even close to perfection that you may hold yourself to is a delusion and unattainable. You are better off embracing your flaws and being the best version of YOU that you can be.
If you constantly define yourself through running, you will experience a loss of identity and purpose. This is a lesson you will have to learn the hard way but you will eventually find another passion just as strong. Running can always be a part of you but you are not just a runner. Explore more layers to yourself and allow your relationship with running to evolve.
Your fire does not die, Natosha. You will continue to compete for a very long time and win three different national championships! You will lose sponsorship because of an injury and have to get a corporate job, only to find your way back to running again for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Your dedication will again be tested when a world pandemic hits and that eight-year dream gets postponed. It is not until then, that you will truly realize it is not about the destination, but the journey that got you there. That is what you will treasure the most.
Through all this, do not forget why are you doing it. You will learn time after time, it is not for the trophies, accolades, money, or fan club. Your WHY is to be a part of something bigger than yourself and make a positive impact on the world around you. You can do that even when you are not the star of the show.
Always find a way to share your fire with others, demonstrate what it means to find hope in the darkest of places, and shed light on the blessings that lie in the power of the mind. All of these things will give you true fulfillment!
Your future self,