Dear Throwing: All The Reasons I Compete Are Through Him

* Mensi Stiff accepts an award by The Tennessean naming her the 2022 Track and Field Athlete of the Year

Photo Credit: Nicole Hester/USA Today via The Tennessean

 "I won't always have the validation of being an elite athlete, but I will always have validation in who God says I am."

By Mensi Stiff - Brentwood Academy '23

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    I don't think people like it when I talk about God or my faith.

    I think people just want to look at my success and say: See, hard work gets you anywhere.

    However, there are plenty of people in the world who are willing to work hard. The thing that sets me apart and the thing that has made me exceptional is God. I always wanted to be great at something.

    I think everyone at some point has big dreams -- dreams to be great at something. I think the reason I am on the path I am on as a thrower is because I am following God's path for me. I work as hard as I do because I believe it is truly God's work, and I am called to honor and follow His path. 

    It's not easy to fully dedicate yourself to something. I don't believe in the saying "don't put all your eggs all in one basket." Whoever said that obviously wasn't an athlete.

    All my eggs are in one basket and that's a scary thing to do, to put everything you are into that one goal. But before I decided to go after my throwing dreams, I prayed to God. I asked Him if no matter how great I might become or if I absolutely failed, I never wanted to feel loved any less by Him.

    I prayed that if I ever accomplish anything it is in His glory, never mine. I felt God's blessing on my dreams and it made chasing them an easy decision. I was not alone. 

    Mensi Stiff is a high school senior from Brentwood Academy in Nashville, Tennessee. The Ole Miss signee holds all-time state records in the shot put indoors and in the shot put and discus outdoors. The reigning NSAF Outdoor Champion in the shot put, she holds outdoor bests of 51 feet, 9.25 inches in the shot put and 162-10 in the discus. She's a seven-time state champion across the indoor and outdoor seasons in Tennessee. Here, she spells out the reasons on why she competes, and for whom. 

    Every athlete knows how hard it is to get to the next level. The sacrifices and the day-in-day out are not easy. It is not for the weak-hearted. All the intense workouts, late nights, early mornings, emotional meets ... they are hard for any athlete.

    It is very hard work and there is no getting around that, but my fuel isn't worldly praise. God's grace, love and path for me are what motivate me more than any trophy or medal ever could. I learned a long time ago that I am going to have bad meets. Last year I ended up dead last at a meet. It didn't define me or all of a sudden make me a terrible athlete or person.

    I woke up the next day and went to practice with the same work ethic and same drive. Track isn't a sure thing. I am not always going to be in this sport. I won't always have the validation of being an elite athlete, but I will always have validation in who God says I am. 

    On the days when I feel like I am not getting any better, when I feel like I am working so hard but getting nowhere, it's not my grit that gets me through. I pray. That's what makes all the hard things easier.

    That might sound stupid to some and people may not understand my conviction, and that is OK; I have elected to live my life to glorify God.

    Photo Credit: Stephanie Amador/USA Today via The Tennessean 

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    Let me illustrate. Last year I wasn't in first at Nationals; I had been throwing poorly and I felt a victory slipping away from me. I didn't hype myself up or start overthinking my technique (which I usually do), I simply prayed to God. I asked for peace and that whatever happened it would be in His will.

    I ended up winning on my last attempt. And that was great, but my athletic accomplishment paled next to the strength it took to pray and be content with the outcome. I was proud of my performance, but I was also proud of my faith.

    I know I approach sports differently than others. People don't always understand or want to associate with the "Jesus freak," but I feel like I would be doing anyone reading this such a disservice if I said anything else. That's who I am. 

    God has blessed me with an exceptional family, a community full of love and support and a coach who has pushed me to become an incredible athlete. My victories, however, are God's victories.

    God is the thing that has influenced my upbringing and has been the reason for my success.

    Mensi, Brentwood Academy '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.