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Honda Award Winners
Parts of the article about Sheretta Jones: Finishing the race strong are on Texassports.com
NCAA champion, All-American, two-time Big 12 champion, six-time All-Big 12, NCAA and Texas record- holder in the distance medley relay, just to name a few highlights.
Moreover, beyond her track accomplishments are another set of achievements in the classroom. The epitome of a student-athletes, Jones also will receive her degree in the highly-competitive major of business administration at the end of the May.
Her collegiate and high school All-American honors go hand-in-hand with her valedictorian honor coming out of high school, where she was ranked No. 1 academically at Houston's Forest Brook HS. Add to that the Academic All-Big 12 First Team honors and College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-District plaudits, and you easily see that Sheretta's future plans not only include a professional career, but plans for graduate school as well.
"Academically, I've achieved more than I ever thought I could achieve. When I got [to Texas], I went above and beyond those obstacles to achieve more than I expected," said Jones. "But, it wasn't as hard to achieve, academically as it has been athletically, to be honest. I have to work so much harder to earn athletic accolades. I can't really say which recognition I enjoy the most, or which one is better. Here at UT, you are on a pedestal in your sport and in the classroom, and being a Longhorn student-athlete just makes you work even harder to do more than you've done already."
One of the biggest struggles athletes face when they arrive on the UT campus is balancing the heavy demands of school and sports. However, Jones has been in the rhythm of multi-tasking for many years.
"I've done this [juggled school and track] for so long, ever since I was nine, so it's kind of second nature," she explained. "The question which would be hard to answer would be how would I balance not having track in my life, not having the two to compliment each other. Doing both doesn't even affect me and I don't even think twice about it," Jones.
This shift in priorities proved useful when Texas and head coach Bev Kearney came calling offered a scholarship, to which Jones was eager to sign.
"They had the best academic and athletic combination that was best suited for me. It wasn't too far from home, and there were two big No. 1's facing me. My major program was ranked number one nationally in UT's business school, and Texas had the number one women's track team, so why not?" Sheretta added.
"I'm also applying to graduate school, so upon acceptance to graduate school, I would start classes in August," noted Jones. "I'll possibly venture into a professional track career if it's feasible and if a contract is available once I graduate and my eligibility is done."
Never one to stop learning, it could also be said that these four years have been one long learning experience for Jones. Not only has she learned perseverance and benefits of hard work, but Jones has discovered the secret to success.
Shot putter Michelle Carter is at the top of her game.
When Michelle Carter stepped into the throwing circle for her final heave at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the podium was within her reach; she was slotted to win silver. The distance to beat was 20.42 meters, held by two-time gold medalist Valerie Adams of New Zealand. In her third Olympic appearance, Carter was ready and focused—and not willing to settle for second place.
Hey, this is it. You might as well go for the gold, she thought to herself.
Then she unleashed a throw of 20.63 meters that shattered the American record and made Carter the first U.S. woman ever to win gold in shot put. She also became the first American woman to stand on the Olympic shot put podium in more than 50 years.
“I couldn’t believe it happened,” she says. “It is great to let the world know the USA women are competitors internationally in [shot put] and are capable of winning major championships—it opens doors for other women to see that these things are possible.”
A Red Oak, Texas, native, Carter, BS ’07, Life Member, is already setting her sights on the IAAF World Championships next year in London. In 2015, she placed third. Looking ahead to her next feat, she speaks with confidence and energy.
“I believe I have more to give. I want to see how far I can actually throw the shot put,” she says. “The only person who can beat me is myself. Even if I don’t win that day, but I gave 100 percent, I still won.”
Carter trains in Dallas alongside her father and coach, 1984 Olympic shot put silver medalist and former San Francisco 49ers nose tackle Michael Carter. She credits her competitive drive to her father’s coaching and her parents’ support.
“They always pushed me to be my best,” Carter says. “They always said, ‘You have more to give,’ and I’d figure out how to get it done.”
While training for Rio, the duo started at 8 a.m. to beat the high Texas temps, beginning with throwing drills before heading to the gym to lift weights and do physical therapy. A typical training day for Carter lasts 12 hours.
But when she isn’t in the throwing circle, she explores her other passion: beauty and fashion. The champion athlete is also a professional makeup artist. Carter, 31, has always enjoyed incorporating her glam habits into her sport.
“It is a part of me and I take that with me,” she says.
Carter prepared for her gold medal-winning shot put throw just like any other competition: She relaxed and focused on the task ahead. The last step of her preparation routine? Applying her NYX Monte Carlo lipstick in bright matte red, her color of choice when she represents Team USA. Only then was she ready to throw.
“When you feel good and you look good,” Carter says, “you have the confidence to do your best.” It’s a motto she takes to every competition.
While on UT’s track and field team, she earned the nickname Shot Diva for her confident demeanor. The only shot putter on the team, her teammates initially called her Track Diva, but she quickly changed the nickname to reflect her sport, and it’s stuck ever since.
“In sports, you are taught that you are supposed to be rough and tough and you can’t dress pretty,” she says. “Putting on makeup is what I do when I get ready for church, an interview, or a special event to look my best. I like to carry that into my sport. I get my nails done, get put together, and get ready to go to work.”
Carter has combined her two worlds into a body-positive identity she hopes to share with young female athletes. Next February, she will launch her first young girls’ sports camp in Dallas focused on female athletic empowerment and body-positive messaging. It’ll be called You Throw Girl Sports Confidence Camp.
“As a female athlete, we don’t look like the average woman,” she says, of shot putters. We have more muscles; our thighs may be bigger or our shoulders may be bigger. I want to break down these stereotypes and teach girls that we can’t all be built the same.”
The camp will focus on healthy eating habits, the importance of stretching and weight lifting, and setting personal goals.
“If Gabby Douglas was built like me, she couldn’t flip, and if I was built like Gabby, I couldn’t throw,” she says. “I want them to learn to appreciate it and learn good habits.”