Avery Jones is a senior at Chickasha High School and competes in cross country, swim, and is a manager for the tennis team. She recently spoke with VYPE Magazine about her perspective as a cross country runner, expectations for her senior year, and life before college.
VYPE: What qualities do you think are required to be successful in cross country?
Avery: Above all else, I believe a strong mindset and a drive for success is a must-have for cross country. When things get tough and your body starts hurting, it’s too easy to just stop and quit. Sometimes when I’m in a race, the idea that I could just stop if I really wanted to crosses my mind because I have the free will to do so. That mindset is so easy for many to follow, but to be successful, runners push the thought away and challenge themselves to keep fighting. Competitiveness is another quality that is valued in this sport, not only with each other but within ourselves. To push ourselves for more every day we must feel competition against yesterday. As my coach always says, “the only easy day was yesterday.”
VYPE: When did you first start running and what inspired you to start running competitively?
Avery: I first began running when I participated in cheer in middle school, and to be honest? I hated it at first. I couldn’t understand why anybody could enjoy something that other sports use as punishment. However, as I began noticing improvement in my athletics, I felt a constant feeling of success with each stride I took. The feeling of accomplishment and improvement mentally and physically kept driving me forward. When I got to high school, I decided to take a chance on running competitively and I enjoyed it.
However, after my freshman year I battled some serious hip and back problems that took me out for a full season, and caused me to be in pain when only walking. After a long year of looking for solutions and minimal running, I gradually began to get better and I slowly got back into competing.
This helped me gain a new perspective on running; every stride I took I was now thankful for. My mindset strengthened with every obstacle I overcame, so when I run now I don’t feel anxious or nervous about the run ahead; I feel proud and excited that I have come so far and that I have the ability to keep moving. Running is now my therapy, and I love it.
VYPE: Do you have any goals this year in cross country, academics, or other activities?
Avery: My goal for cross country is pretty simple: I want to keep pushing and improving every single day. For swim, I would like to place higher at state in my individual events that consist of the 100 breaststroke and the 500 freestyle. For the past two years I’ve made it to state for swim in every event I’ve tried for, so this year I would like to work harder and place higher than last year. Academic wise, I recently got accepted into OSU for architecture, so my goal is to keep working hard to gain more scholarships and be prepared for next year. Since it is my senior year, when I graduate I want to look back on all my athletics and academics and be proud of the effort I gave and the accomplishments I’ve made.
VYPE: Do you have anyone that inspires you or someone that you consider a role model?
Avery: My biggest role model that’s pretty much been there for me since day one is my older brother. I have always looked up to him and wanted to be exactly like him when I was a kid. He was on the cross country team before me, so he was another driving force of why I joined. He works hard at everything he does, and encourages me to work hard too. He has influenced me greatly in so many ways and always pushes me to be better and keep moving when I need it the most. He helps me find my own path in life and gives me a sense of direction when I don’t know where to go. I don’t know where I’d be without him.
VYPE: Is there a particular event that you’re excited for this year or favorite memory from this season?
Avery: This year one of my favorite memories is when we were in the middle of a practice and the rain just began pouring on us out of nowhere. We got back to the school and a couple of us decided to run a victory lap/cooldown around the track. It was probably the slowest lap I’ve ever ran, seeing that I couldn’t see more than four feet in front of my face because of how heavy the rain was, but we didn’t care. We all laughed and had a great time.
Another favorite memory that I’ll miss is that every year after we run at Cameron in Lawton, I can always count on the fact that we’ll stop to eat at Burger King and get crowns. We always have a group photo afterwards with all of the crowned queens and kings.
VYPE: What do you like to do for fun in your free time outside of athletics or the classroom?
Avery: Being outdoors is my favorite thing in the world, so if I get a free chance in the evenings, I absolutely love driving around with an iced coffee in my hand during the sunset or “golden hour” and blasting music. You’ll either hear me listening to Kendrick Lamar or the Lumineers. I am extremely extroverted too, so if there are any social activities going on at the moment you will definitely find me there. I absolutely love painting and photography and just about anything artistic as well.