Faith Austin is making a 90-minute journey to Dayton, Tennessee. On Saturday, the Sonoraville High School graduate put pen to paper, signing a track scholarship with Bryan College in a ceremony with family and coaches.
“To finally sign the paper, I was extremely happy,” Austin said. “From the time I’ve been in middle school through high school, I’ve always wanted to go to college to run track off of a track scholarship, it was ... a dream come true for me.”
Austin said she selected Bryan College because they sought her out. Austin said Bryan College’s sprint coach, James Eliezer, direct messaged her on Instagram to inform her he was keeping track of her times during the track season.
“I posted videos of me running track on ... my Instagram,” Austin said. “(Eliezer) said God kept leading him back to me and it was just in his spirit that he had to have me at Bryan College.”
Austin brings plenty of talent and experience to Dayton. In high school, she ran the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, 4x100-meter relay and the 4x400-meter relay. She placed 13th overall at the 2019 GHSA Class AAA state championships in Albany.
During the recruitment process, Austin said at first she was anxious to be leaving home, but added the excitement of starting a new chapter of her life outweighed the nervous notions.
Austin’s family has a legacy in track and field. Austin’s mother, Mamie, ran track for Red Bud High School in the 1970s.
Austin’s cousin, Mel Pender, represented the United States in the 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City. Alongside Charles Greene, Jim Hines and Ronnie Ray Smith, the group captured a gold medal in the Men’s 4x100-meter relay.
“He trained me my senior year for track, so he got me ready for state,” Austin said. “I always told him I wanted to be in the Olympics like he was. It’s always been a dream of mine.”
Austin said the biggest thing she learned from Pender was improving on coming out of blocks.
“That was my very weakest point in track,” Austin said. “He brought up my time from how to come out of blocks, he worked on my drive phase, he made sure I was cleaned up and he worked on my whole 200 (meter). At state, my time actually improved too so I was very proud of myself and how he pushed me and worked with me.”
While maintaining Olympic aspirations, Austin said she’s attending Bryan College to pursue her goal of becoming an athletic trainer.
Upon leaving Sonoraville High School, Austin said she will miss her teachers and friends.
“They always recognize each and every person that was not only in a sport, but even outside of a sport; it could have been academics or anything,” Austin said. “(Also) all the love they gave me along the way and helped me all throughout high school.”
Austin’s drive stems from her religious beliefs and before any track meet, she remembers her faith.
“At any track meet that I had, before I go to my blocks, I’d always tell myself before I got down in them, that I could do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” Austin said. “It helped me through every track meet, helped me through every one of my races that I did.”