I can say without hesitation the story of Lauren Johnson and her junior track and field season is nothing short of amazing. Lauren is probably the most important athlete in my programs history as she raised the level of expectations of training in practice and at meets. She was the hardest worker I have ever had as a coach. In addition she was very talented and no matter how hard the other girls on the team tried no one could catch her in a sprint workout. That even included her teammate who has second in the state in the 100 dash.
After an incredible sophomore year Lauren trained like crazy the winter before her junior year in preparation for her move up to the 800 from the 400. As can happen with any hardworking kid she did too much and was hurt after our second meet of the track season her junior year. The injury was a nasty one. She had gotten a stress reaction in her upper leg. Obviously, this problem was exacerbated at her inability to gear down and do less work to allow her body to heal. Good news the doctor said she could still race just not run any other time outside of track meets. The hope was to limit the impacts on her leg at the same time still allowing her race. With Lauren’s parents’ permission we hatched a plan to do whatever we could to keep her racing and not lose fitness. I would meet Lauren early in the morning to do ether an intense bike workout or pool workout. These workouts would simulate what her teammates were doing on the track that day. Then in the afternoon while her team was doing their warm up she would go straight to the weight room and push very heavy weights. After she would come out and do seated runs for the same amount of time as her teammates were running at practice. I knew that we were working with barrowed time because nothing truly replaces running but Lauren would not be denied. She even sacrificed an individual event that season so she could help her team on three relays. She battled the pain in her leg every time she strapped on spikes and her fitness was becoming slightly diminished each week she extended her season.
The season could not end any better considering the circumstances. Lauren up being all state as a member of the 4×800, 4×400, and 4×200 relays. Lauren ended her season with an exclamation point as she anchored our 4×200 and 4×400 to State Championship! I was soo happy she survived and we didn’t break her! Her commitment and sacrifice is more than I could ever ask of an athlete because if not for her we would have not won our district title or even come close to finishing fourth in the state championship that year. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Lauren and hopefully one day I will be able to repay her.