Senior Swan Song: Kh’Miah Vaughns

Name: Kh'Miah Vaughns

School: Rangeview High School

Q) What was your most memorable race/throw/jump/vault/moment?

Junior year coach took the varsity kids to run at a Greeley invitational meet. I was to run a 200m dash. I was nervous. With running relays I always felt comfortable but when it came to the open 200m it was always a challenge mentally and sometimes physically.

We all had our minds set to win the meet. The weather conditions weren't that great by the time the 200m came, because it was getting late it was around 9pm. I remember being so nervous because I was in a fast heat.

I warmed up for about an hour and a half. I knew if I was to go into the race with a bad mindset I was not going to do so well. So I kept trying to do all I could to get the bad off my mind. We lined up in our heats and lanes and I was super nervous.

It wasn't my first race but I wasn't feeling too good that day. Me and my teammate Kevon prayed over my race. After it was time for my race, I got to the line. I was very shaky and nervous. The gun went off and all I could do was repeat to myself, breathe.

I ran a 28.18, I believe I won the heat. I was beyond excited, it felt like the best I ran since the beginning of the season. Of course the locks and heavy breathing followed but it was worth it. The team won that meet.

Q)  Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?

My previous best time was my biggest competition. It didn't matter to me all the time what place I got in my heat, to me I was racing the clock. Trying so hard each time for a new personal record. The women in my heats weren't competition, they were motivators, they helped me beat my previous times.

Q) What was your greatest accomplishment?

Being selected to become Captain my junior year, second year on the team was such a great accomplishment. Being a captain is more than the idea of taking charge. It's about knowing you can bring the team together with effort. It took until the end of my junior season to know why being captain was important to me and why I feel I did my part.

When we won the league, both the boys and girls teams, the excitement was unbeatable. The celebration showed that those moments of trying to help build a strong team got us to that achievement. Watching each athlete scream and shout and jump while their teammates were running showed that we weren't just building a team, we were building friendships.

Q) If you could do it all over again what would you change about your career in high school?

I would've definitely tried and come out my freshmen year to start. And I would appreciate each moment more because situations like right now, make me feel I should have appreciated the races more.

I miss the track and my team and my coaches even more with it feeling like it was all took away in a second. We worked really hard throughout the summer, and during the school year, and sometimes I feel there were times where I didn't enjoy the moment as much as I should've. With me feeling like this it leaves me with regrets. I regret that I didn't appreciate every moment. I regret having to scratch some of my events. Those are races I won't get to run again, times down the drain.

I miss the butterflies I would get after hearing "runners take your mark". The small talks I would have with the other teams as we waited for our heat. The bus rides. The cramping and locks after the races. The adrenaline rush. The feeling of winning. The feeling of losing. The feeling of the baton smacking my hand. Warming up with my team. All those little moments should've been appreciated much more and if I had another chance these moments would not go unappreciated again. Every moment counts.

Q) What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?

With being a sprinter there were thousands of times having to prove why I wanted a varsity spot, and deserved to keep it when I got it. There were 50 kids wanting the same spot I wanted. There were trainings and practices where I didn't perform so well, and I felt the next kid had taken some steps ahead of me. With trying to hold down my varsity spot game health problems.

I was having breathing problems, while also talking to my doctor, who was very concerned about my weight. There was a time I had to skip school and practice because I had to get an MRI on my brain. I was having panic attacks towards the end of my junior season and the beginning of my senior season training. I was dealing with struggles at home which was affecting my performance on the track as well.

New situations kept appearing and all I could do was hope for the best and carry on with what I could. It made it really hard to lead a team, when I wasn't sure where life was leading me. With pushing forward, it has become easier to lead my team because my anxiety stopped with exercise and relaxation.

The yoga and breathing practices we did as a team helped. I was performing super well as a person and athlete making it  able to show why my varsity spot was mine. I'm happy to say these struggles have made me a better athlete.

Q) What will you miss the most?

Sounds basic, but my team. These are the wonderful people who I shared common goals with. The environment my team brought to each practice, and each meet was beyond amazing.

The idea that we're not just a team on these fields but in the classrooms, the hallways, and even in the community was so comforting. My team wasn't a normal team. There wasn't a team full of distance runners, hurdlers, jumpers, throwers. We were all one team, full of individual talented kids.

You could ask a thrower to run and any thrower from my team will. You can ask a distance runner to try jumps for the day and they will. We were all willing to do anything for our team.

There was massive support, I mean we are one large team, for each race. Same went with the coaches, the throwing coaches weren't just coaches for the throwers, the distance coach Castellano wasn't just a distance coach. I could go up to Coach Bible, our jump coach and ask a question and still get that support I would've got from my sprinting coaches.

Everyone on our team belonged, and even those of us who felt like they didn't have anywhere in the school, the track team always made them feel apart. I will strongly miss such a talented, driven team.

Q) What advice would you give to younger athletes?

To all younger athletes I would say, no one does amazing on their first try, give your 100% if you really want to do it. Don't let anyone tell you, no you aren't built for such sport. If you really want to do it, you will put a 100% effort into it.

The effort will always pay off. The effort will open you to knowing more about yourself than you ever knew. That effort will open doors, and open new paths. That effort will show you how strong you are. It's not about showing the people who doubted you how capable you are it's about you showing yourself how capable you are. Your love to yourself, to your sport, it matters.

Eventually when you get to that 100%, you have more potential so keep going. Don't stop at 100% when you are talented enough to go further and beyond.

Q) What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?

Coach Carhart wasn't just my coach, he was a friend, a mentor, a counselor, a role model. With almost 200 kids on a team, I would've never expected to get seen by my coaches. Coach always made sure to know everyone's name.

A welcoming coach makes it easy to have an excellent team. Some days weren't my best days, and Coach would sometimes be the only person to ask "what's wrong" and "how are you doing".  If I achieved a new goal he would congratulate me, because sometimes that "good job kid" was the only congratulations I got. When I was overwhelmed with class work, he would ask how he could help or find resources and other people to help me feel less drained. He would always remind me how he wasn't a math genius, it was okay because I was.

When I dealt with personal problems, he would do his best to uplift my spirits again. Provide me with a lesson on why the situation I'm in isn't my final destination. He would share his own stories with me to get me to understand even more. He wasn't just great help on the track but off it too. I would be able to go to him about scholarship help, help finding colleges right for me, just anything. He always provided a good laugh.

My coach has helped me plenty of times take next steps on and off the track. With the help I was getting in school, it helped me be a better athlete. That support goes along way.

Q) What are your college plans?

With our senior year being a bit crazy with our current situation my college plans are a bit crazy as well. I would like to pursue the career of Dental Hygienist. With the season approaching I was hoping to come in contact with more coaches with the idea of running in college. Academically I have scholarships but a track scholarship would really be amazing. I don't have any final decisions on where I would like to go yet, but I'm certainly still looking for more opportunities.

Q) Who would you like to say 'thank you' to?

I would love to give thanks to all my coaches and teammates but personally I would like to say thank you to my teammate Jewel Watkins. I'd have to say she was always a huge impact on my performance in track. During training she'd always give her 100% and I'd give my 100% and we'd both push each other to full potential. She was one of the people I always looked forward to seeing at practice. I owe her a big thank you for being able to perform the way I did my junior and senior season. She provided me with good competition and she helped me treat each practice like a meet. A lot of my best times were ran running with her.

Q) Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Our team was such a strong team because our coach always preached about "running for something greater than ourselves." We developed the team on the idea of "building and bonding". When we built relationships through bonding, we ended up with what our coach called "running for something greater than ourselves."

Achieving a personal goal is nice. But when you achieve a goal that is important to you and your team, it's a different type of fulfillment. That team has worked so hard from the seniors to the freshmen. The team wouldn't be a team without each young woman and young men doing what they can for the team. Even with our season on stop we are still pushing and building and bonding and supporting each other through such a hard time.