August 1st marked AAU’s inaugural running day! Prior to that day, AAU members could enter a competition by submitting why they love to run using #RunAAU on Instagram and Twitter. One boy and one girl were chosen as the selected winners because of their enthusiastic responses about the love of running, and in turn, will receive a free pair of running shoes from the AAU.
Urbandale High School track and field athlete, Jamaica Lovan, from Urbandale, Iowa was selected as the female winner. In response to the Running Day campaign, she posted, “I love running because I get to meet athletes from all over the U.S. Not only this, but it allows me to explore new places and experience new things! Many may see running as a competition, but I see running as a way to bring people together. The feeling of unity surrounds me as I see athletes, coaches, and parents coming together as a whole to see and enjoy the sport we all love! #runaau”
Lovan, a triplet in her family, entered the sport when her sister began competing at the age of 10. “She won all these medals, and she always looked like she really enjoyed it, so I wanted to try out the sport as well,” Lovan said.
This summer, Jamaica Lovan competed in her third AAU Junior Olympic Games in the long jump, where she placed 21st overall with a 16.9’’ jump. While track is in season at Urbandale High, she also competes in the 100, 200, and 400 meter dashes.
Before any track practice, Lovan prepares herself mentally by envisioning that the work she puts in at practice will help her thrive in future competition. Before any track meet, Jamaica participates in healthy eating practices. “I eat lots of fruits and vegetables and grilled chicken before every meet. During a meet, I eat Cliff Bars,” she explained.
She admires the support of her friends and family. “My parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents are really supportive and try to come to as many meets as possible. They’re so happy to see me compete,” she exclaimed.
Jamaica’s future plan in track and field is to be a student-athlete in college. Her main goal is to find a college or university that offers a good academic program that parallels a successful track and field program.
AAU Running Day’s male winner is Devon Brown from Pasco, Washington. His winning response was expressed on Instagram. It stated, “I run for the love of running, cancer [awareness], to stay in shape, and to get stronger. Plus, you never know when you just might need to run. Oh, and it makes my calves look good! #runaau”
Brown also runs recreationally to support the community by doing “fun runs,” such as participating in Pasco’s Cable Bridge Run, which takes place each year in the town. “Running just inspires me to do so many things. I like to set goals for myself,” he said.
Devon also uses running as a way to connect and bond with his friends and family. “I enjoy doing cardio around the block with my dad, and my mom got an app for her phone, ‘Couch to 5k,’ that inspires us to jog up to that distance. Whenever I get a chance, I like to do that with her,” he says.
Brown participates in a multitude of sports, with his main sport being karate. He said, “Running helps me a lot in karate because it allows me to maintain endurance in competition.” Brown competed in this year’s karate portion of the AAU Junior Olympic Games at the Iowa Events Center and concluded the event with a gold medal in weapons and a bronze in sparring.
Brown, a black belt in the 13-14 year old age division, has high expectations for himself as he moves forward in his athletic pursuits. In May of 2013, he traveled with the karate world team to Australia to compete in a World Championship. This year’s karate World Championship is in Poland and team trials were on August 2.
Devon Brown returns to school this fall entering the 8th grade and looks forward to his continued involvement in the AAU and his favorite sports. “Most people get nervous before they compete,” he claimed. “One thing that helps me grow out of that is just being involved in constant competition.”
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