by Alexandra Rumford
Getting to go to Junior Olympics with Umoja was one of the best things I have ever done. Looking out at the stadium, I was wowed. It was huge, and the blue track seemed so different from the red running track of other meets I’d been to. The stadium was so big! It felt like a whole new world.
The experience of competing against great athletes from all over the US was really special. I was inspired by all the girls and boys who came from different places (from New Hampshire to Wisconsin!) to be there in North Carolina. I was nervous, but once I saw all the smiling faces of the Umoja coaches, parents, and athletes, I felt so much better. I knew that even if I messed up, they’d still support me.
The highlight of my experience was running relays with my fellow teammates. The time we spent together was really nice, and we bonded as a team but also as friends. The teamwork and comradery required to run relays is astounding and we all put in a lot of work to get to JO’s. It was tiring but rewarding. Stepping out onto the track, I felt like I was ready to run as fast as I could for my team. Working together as a team to create a well-oiled relay machine was awesome.
The whole Junior Olympics experience helped me to feel like I belonged and was a true athlete. Running in the competition was amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.