Throughout one’s life there are many expectations and goals. The mind is full of ideas, journeys to be taken and dreams to turn into reality.
As children, the thoughts of what people want to be when they grow up run wild through the mind. A firefighter, police officer and doctor or lawyer seem to be popular ideas.
Once you reach that certain stage where you really know the path meant for you, you hit the ground running and don’t stop until you reach the finish line.
For Jacksonville University senior Joane Pierre, that moment was as a sixth grader during physical education class. Since that day in Phys. Ed. Pierre has been running track and cross country ever since and the years of work and dedication are paying off.
“I was approached by the P.E. teacher and asked if I wanted to join the schools team,” Pierre said. “Once he explained it to me I thought hey why not, it’s worth a try.”
Fast forward from that moment when Pierre was approached and recruited by her sixth grade gym teacher, to now, just a few short weeks after Pierre has won the Atlantic Sun individual conference title.
Pierre is an 11-time individual conference champion and 17-time all-conference honoree, according to www.judolphins.com. Pierre competes in outdoor and indoor track as well as cross country. The individual cross country conference championship was the first in JU history, all part of the legacy Pierre sprints ahead of.
“She is a pioneer for our cross country program and JU will forever be grateful,” cross country coach Ron Grigg said.
Achieving this kind of success isn’t just second nature. It takes drive, devotion and dedication. Along the way you need to set goals for yourself, strive to reach those goals and then some.
“From the beginning I always told myself, ‘leave a lasting impression no matter where you go,’” Pierre said. “I knew that I couldn’t win every race but I told myself if I can run and make someone say ‘who’s that little girl out there?’ than I know that I’ve accomplished something and in return that has made me exceed any goals that I could of set for myself.”
Like many young adults finding their way through the world, there is a reason behind what Pierre does. That inspirational factor that can make a good athlete into a great one.
“I would say that my parents are my biggest inspiration,” Pierre said. “They have supported me and taught me that with each opportunity that I get to show the talent that God has given me don’t take it for granted. To see all they have been through yet put so much trust and belief in me I will always be thankful and inspired by their character.”
Along with the moments that define who we are as people or in this case an athlete, there are the people who help mold and shape us.
“Having the ability to trust my coaches and my training, I have been lucky to have been placed with such wonderful and talented individuals who have chosen to make me as one of their athletes, for that I owe them all the credit for who am I today as an athlete,” Pierre said.
Most high school athletes have aspirations of taking their game to the next level. Playing a college sport takes more than just talent alone. College athletics are a whole different breed than high schools sports athletes.
Just over four years ago, Pierre had a choice to make. Pierre needed to decide if she wanted to run collegiately and if so, where she wanted it to take her. That decision led Pierre to the banks of the St. Johns River to Jacksonville University.
From the moment Pierre arrived at JU, she has been taking huge strides all culminating in her individual A-Sun title this fall. Pierre has impacted the university, the track and cross country program and those around her whether its coaches, teammates or just those she’s passed along the way.
“Overall I’ve been placed with a lot of individuals who have made JU all that it could be in my life and more,” Pierre said. From teammates, to coaches, to professors and even some of the staff that works for the university, I am happy that I’ve met these individuals and now I’m filled with friendships and experiences to last me a lifetime.”
“I don’t know Joane on a personal level but as a member of the team she was great,” freshman cross country teammate, Ryan Wagner said. “She was a very nice person, humble and loved what she was doing. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Pierre, who is a senior and set to depart from JU shortly, is no longer on the pre-determined path of a 5K race or 100-meter dash. The new obstacles for Pierre are not those she’s running against but which to turns to take and when to take them.
“You never know where life is going to take you,” Pierre said. I myself am putting all of that in God’s hands. I have nothing specific in mind as to where I will end up but I know for sure no matter where it is, I won’t stop searching until I’m satisfied and happy.”
Following the spring track season Pierre has to gear up for the biggest race of her career: life. All the practice in the world can’t prepare you for the twists and turns that lie ahead in life. If you could prepare for everything life is getting ready to throw at you, things would be easy but it’s not like that.
Just as in sports, your life is defined by those same moments. The eye-openers that shed a bit of light as to who you truly are.
“When you do something that is remarkable and memorable, that’s what people remember and that’s what I think every person strives for… that one moment,” Pierre said.