By Chloe Anderson
Mattoon High School sophomore Amari Brown has participated in tennis, basketball and track since her freshman year. In tennis, Brown is the number one JV player, and in track she is a hurdler. Her dedication paired with the help she gets from coaches and more experienced teammates contributes to her success and improvements over the past two years in all of her sports. While many athletes may dread practices and find competitions and games to be their favorite part of the sport, Brown acknowledges the importance of taking time to improve her skills.
“My favorite aspect would have to be when we practice our events because it gives us the time to get better at what we do and to fix the things that we do wrong,” Brown said.
Not only does Brown work hard during practice, but she is also willing to put in extra time.
“When I first started playing tennis, I needed to improve my serves, my backhands and my volleys, so I practiced even outside of tennis practice, which was after school. Sometimes I stayed after with my coach and worked on those things, and I practice on the weekends to try and improve my skills. When I first started running, I wasn’t the fastest on the team and I knew that. I work hard in practice. I also lifted weights and ran with my mom on the weekends to get stronger and faster,” Brown said.
Brown’s mom has not been the only person helping Brown to get faster. At practices, she has found MHS senior Rachel Ervin to be a mentor, helping to improve her game and speed.
“In track, Rachel and I both run 100 and 300 hurdles, and she has helped me with my foot work, and she continues to push me to run faster and drop my times. In tennis, she has helped me with my serves and has given me some tips on how to place the ball in a certain spot so that it’s harder for my opponent to return the ball,” Brown said.
The relationship between the two teammates goes both ways. While Ervin often helps Brown with form and speed, Brown has a great impact on Ervin’s demeanor, spreading happiness everywhere she goes.
“[Brown] is really funny, and I just love being around her. She always has this positive energy in both tennis and track. I probably spend more time with her in track because we are both hurdlers, and she never gets too down and whenever she does she just picks herself up easily. Any time I get down in hurdles, she will always pick me up and say nice things about me and tell me I’m a good hurdler… she is always so positive,” Ervin said.
While her positive attitude is a huge part of what makes Brown a valuable team player, she is also extremely athletic and a hard worker. Her resolve to improve and extra time spent working toward her goals has paid off.
“In my tennis career, I am most proud of how hard I’ve worked to get where I am. I went from being one of the bottom players in the team to being number one on JV. In my track career I am most proud of how far I’ve come since I ran in middle school,” Brown said. “High school is very different than middle school. For example, the height of the hurdle for 100 high hurdles. I remember it was the first time I jumped over a high hurdle I was nervous and shaking. I ran up on it, and I closed my eyes as I jumped over it because I was so scared. Now, I can clear a hurdle that high and I am proud of that.”
While Brown has met many of her goals in the past, she continues to set goals to work toward in the future.
“My goals of this track season are to be better than I was last year, to be able to drop my times and jump farther” Brown said.