Dear Jumping: I'm Excited To See How Far We Can Go

Zavien Wolfe is a senior at Memphis Central High School in Tennessee. A recent University of Georgia signee, Wolfe set two state indoor records in January, recording career-best marks of 24-5.25 and 50-0.5 in the long and triple jumps. He won two state outdoor titles in the long and triple jumps last year, along with a fourth-place finish at adidas Outdoor Nationals in the long jump. Here, Wolfe writes about the challenges he's faced over his high school career, and how he got through them.

By Zavien Wolfe - Memphis Central '23

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    We first met when I was 8, back when I was a frail, uncoordinated child. My father introduced us. 

    But surprisingly enough, we didn't have a love-hate relationship. I didn't feel any certain type of way toward you; I jumped because I felt like I had to. 

    But I began to get stronger once I saw progression.

    Since I competed in all three of the jumps, I felt a bond to the runway and to the pit. Jumping taught me that if you put in the hard work, the results will come.

    The late hours after practice, the days of working out when it was supposed to be my day off; the hours of film, the tears, the laughter, it has all made this experience much more meaningful and something to really cherish.

    I will do anything if it means it will make me a better jumper. I've done all the sprinting events and even the decathlon, but I just don't get the same joy I do from jumping.

    Jumping gave me a sense of reality and purpose. It has been something that I have done, and a piece of me has always been with this discipline. 

    My love for these events wasn't instant, though. I was decent at first. I was always the smallest kid -- by stature and size -- so I always felt like I was at a disadvantage. Back then, I never really spent time on getting better; it was all natural ability for the most part.

    But my competitive nature makes me hungry, so when I would lose I felt like a failure. That's what sparked my competitive drive.

    I still wasn't as good as I wanted to be. Then my understanding of this sport began to change during my time competing in AAU. I would win regional meets, but when it came to nationals, I was nothing compared to 'those' athletes, the ones who I felt like were destined to win. I felt humiliated and embarrassed.

    After all the work I put in? I felt like I came back square one. 

    Little did I know, I just had to be patient. I had to believe. I found out, you can't rush success; it will find you when it is meant to come.

    That's what I failed to understand at a young age.

    In high school, I felt like it was my time to shine. While I expected myself to hit some great marks my freshman year, COVID-19 happened. It was another big setback. For a moment, there was some serious doubt. My training fell off significantly, so I began to lose interest in you.

    Then that next year, I got an injury right before our sectional meet and didn't qualify for state in any of the jumping events. I felt a sense of uselessness as I was not able to compete with my teammates. I couldn't work toward a chance to win a state title.

    We got second-place as a team at the state meet. I saw that. But instead of being disappointed at my place on the sidelines, it added more fuel to the fire. 

    Of course, that sense of hope was dashed again. I sprained my ankle the first meet of the season the following year. 

    I was at my lowest and all I could ask was "Why?" Why did this happen to me?

    To be honest with you, I can't really explain it. But because I had faith, because I believed, because I stuck with it, and because I didn't want to let failure be my story, I kept giving myself more chances. 

    Maybe it was meant to happen. Maybe I needed to be patient. Or maybe all of those little things added up. 

    Little did I know, I was about to have one of the greatest seasons of my career.

    I went from being a good jumper to one of the best in Tennessee history. In my mind, all I needed was a chance. I needed time, belief, patience.

    Jumping, I couldn't have done it without you. I would like to thank you for everything.

    You've taught me many valuable lessons throughout our years spent together and I'm excited to see how far we go.



    Memphis Central '23






    If you are a track and field athlete or coach interested in contributing to this series at the state or national level, please send your essay to MileSplit USA editor Cory Mull at, or to your local MileSplit editor in your respective state.