Getting back on track
NATCHEZ — Jessica Reynolds called it the worst decision she ever made and her biggest regret.
The Adams County Christian School senior was a mainstay on the girls basketball team ever since she was old enough to play. But because she wanted to focus on her schoolwork, Reynolds opted not to play basketball her senior season.
Now, Reynolds is trying to get in shape for track and field, in which she’ll compete in the long jump, 400-meter dash and the relay events. Not having played basketball has put her a bit behind schedule, she said.
“If I could go back, I would go back a million times,” Reynolds said of her decision. “It’s messed me up for track, because I didn’t realize how good a shape basketball kept me in for track.
“I missed my teammates, and I missed my senior year. It’s disappointing to realize I took my senior year off for one of my favorite sports.”
Reynolds said she wanted to focus on her grades in order to pass a college English course she’s taking, and she’s also aiming for a nursing program that’s hard to get into. While she may regret her decision, ACCS track coach Chris McGraw — Reynolds’ stepfather — said there have been some positives to her missing basketball.
“She is behind on her conditioning, but the wear and tear is not as bad,” McGraw said. “She would be having three to four concussions in basketball and blown out ankles.
“It’s going to be harder for her body to get to that point that it was last year, when she was coming home hurting. I’d rather her be behind in conditioning and healthy.”
Reynolds began working out for track in early January, and she immediately noticed how far behind she was with conditioning, she said.
“Where I am now is where I would have been if I had just gotten done with basketball and started track,” Reynolds said. “I’ve never taken losing easily, not even in practice. To get beat by every girl out there (when we ran) was very, very frustrating.
“Knowing that I’m not where I should be, it made me sick, but it’s caused me to push myself harder.”
McGraw said he has noticed improvement in Reynolds’ conditioning over the last several weeks, and not being beat up from basketball will help her in the long run.
“We won’t have any setbacks,” McGraw said. “Conditioning comes with running. She’s 100 percent better than she was three weeks ago.”
Seeing the team win district and state, and herself win individual accolades at state, are the main goals Reynolds has set for herself this season. Having her father as her coach should help push her toward those goals, she said.
“It’s something I really enjoy,” Reynolds said. “He doesn’t take it easy on me, and he knows my strengths and abilities. It’s a big help, especially this year, with me being so far behind.”
McGraw said being her dad allows him to push Reynolds harder than he would other athletes. He also said if he could ever teach her how to have more confidence, she’d take off as a runner.
“She thinks she’s the slowest person out here,” McGraw said. “I just argue with her, but there’s nothing you can really tell her. You just have to prove it to her with her times.”
Reynolds is also the daughter of Melissa McGraw.