Warriors track and field strive for good character

Published 8:50 pm Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Nansemond River High School Warriors are known for being a juggernaut on the track and field circuit, but they are also a team wanting to be known for more than just championships. During the holiday break, the NRHS track and field team had the pleasure of adopting a family to make their Christmas special.

“The whole experience was very refreshing,” Warriors coach Justin Byron said. “It’s a sense of joy that comes over you when you’re able to give like that. It came from a genuine place from everyone.”

The runners, coaches and parents bought gifts, wrapped the gifts and donated money to a Suffolk family that was in need. Even school administrators that caught wind of what the team was doing extended a helping hand as well. Instead of just sending the stuff off to the family, the athletes were able to visit the family and interact with them.

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Byron pushes the idea of holistic development amongst his track team.

“These things mean more to me than any amount of championships,” Byron said. “Championships and stuff are statistical, but helping others out builds character, which will help these kids for a lifetime. We have to be great students, athletes and have good character. We don’t want to be champions and have bad character or be bad people.”

Traits like leadership, respectfulness and being charitable are all things NRHS track and field prides itself on instead of just having great athletes.

“It’s a great feeling knowing that you can do something that makes a huge impact on someone else rather than yourself,” Warriors sprinter JeVon Waller said. “As you get older, you realize it feels a lot better to give than to receive. Helping that family out was a really great feeling.”

On the track side of things, the Warriors are recently coming off of the Suffolk Invitational that included some strong individual finishes. Syaira Richardson took first place in the 500-meter. Jazmine Tilmon, Kori Carter, Jasmine Watson and Skylar Parks placed one through four, respectively, in the 55-meter hurdles. Carter finished third in the 500 meter as well. Brian Holland finished second in the 3,200-meter event.

Next, the Warriors will be participating in the Virginia Invitational, which will feature the best teams and runners in the nation.

“This is going to be a huge meet,” Byron said. “This will certainly show us where we are as a team. At the state level, I believe we will be competitive this year.”

Byron mentioned that the key to this year for Nansemond River track and field is patience. Last season was one for the ages for the Warriors, and he just wants the team this year to live up to their potential instead of trying to surpass last year’s team.

“To get to where we want to be nationally this year is going to take patience,” Byron said. “The kids have to compete to the process as well as I do. I have to remain patient as a coach and let the process play out so that we are ready when it counts.”

They want to determine their own success this year, and it will start on Thursday, when they travel to Liberty University for the Virginia Invitational.