HARKER HEIGHTS — Instead of going to football games this fall, Brittany Adkins trained for the indoor track season.
She missed the Harker Heights Knights’ homecoming game, their final home game of the season and their first playoff appearance since 2006.
The senior sprinter just couldn’t bring herself to go and sit in the stands after years of cheering on the sideline.
“I was able to juggle both sports for a long time, but I really just got tired — I wasn’t able to perform on the track and on the court (cheerleading) like I should’ve been between cheerleading practice and track practice, because of games and meets,” Adkins said.
Midway through her junior year, she felt forced to choose between the two sports she loved. Figuring track would take her where cheerleading wouldn’t, she chose the latter.
That didn’t make this fall any easier to endure, but Thursday, when she signed a letter of intent to run track for North Carolina Central University, a Division I program competing in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, the pay-off was worth the sacrifice.
“I’ve been running since I was in about fourth grade. I’ve always had love for the sport, but it was always I couldn’t devote myself that much because I was doing two sports, so I knew I had to pick one or the other,” Adkins said.
The Lady Knights’ four-year letterman is a two-time defending district champion in the 100 meters, though she was not favored to win either title, and a two-time regional qualifier.
Adkins won the 100 meters at the District 8-5A meet in 11.98 seconds, upsetting heavily-favored Natalie Poynter from Waco Midway. She was also a member of the Lady Knights’ gold medal-winning 400- and 800-meter relays.
A nagging injury from her junior season led to a disappointing finish at the District 7-5A and 8-5A Area track meet, where she finished fifth in the 100.
“People said that I wasn’t ready and I wouldn’t have and I kind of just went out there and I put all of my hard work on the track,” Adkins said of the first 100-meter district title she won as a junior. “I wasn’t supposed to win this year, either ... I just left my heart on the track.”
When coaches from North Carolina Central saw tape of Adkins running, they told her she reminded them of current Eagles senior sprinter Ashley McCoy. In a four-week stretch during March, McCoy either won the 100 or 200 and, like Adkins, was forced to choose track over another sport — in McCoy’s case, it was softball.
“It’s kind of like I’ll be taking her spot,” Adkins said. “She came in running about the same times I am, and now she’s ranked in the nation. I’m hoping to be ranked in the nation, just as she is.”
“She kind of told me how the coaches were and how they worked with her to make sure that she got to where she needed to be,” Adkins added, “and I felt like that they could offer me that same thing.”
She never made it to the state track meet and never broke the school record in the 100 meters, both goals she set out to do, but she kept shooting for both and through her hard work and dedication, she earned this opportunity to continue running in college.
“Anytime you have an athlete that moves on to the next level, it’s your reward for that kid for the hard work that they put in. And Brittany has definitely done that over the last four years,” said Harker Heights girls track coach Michelle Womack. “She’s grown, not only as an athlete, but she’s become as a great leader for our team, mentoring the younger athletes. This is just the reality of what happens when you work hard.”