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Girls Varsity Track · McLaughlin Signs with SWU

Last week, Haley McLaughlin enjoyed a public celebration of her recent signing with Southern Wesleyan University to compete in track and field. It was a special moment for Haley, her family and friends, and her coaching staff. Now, roll back the clock 14 years … yes, 14 years.

Payne at SWU

14 years ago, Haley was a toddler, but I was senior athlete at Emerald High School. In the spring of 2003, I finished my career as an Emerald cross country and track athlete. I signed my national letter of intent to run at SWU. It was one of the best decisions of my life because of the one-on-one mentoring I received from coaches and professors. My time at Emerald and SWU set me up to come back and serve the students at Emerald starting in 2007.

It seems Haley has followed my footsteps twice: through the halls of Emerald and onto the campus of SWU. I am certain that her time at Emerald and SWU will prepare her for the next phase of her life. While she will most likely not return to Emerald as a teacher, she will find a career that involves loving and serving her community. She will continue to make all of us proud in the coming months and years. I close with a series of questions I asked Haley about her commitment to SWU.

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  • What influenced your decision to go to Southern Wesleyan University? I wanted a small school that has a well developed academic program, but also a track program that I can easily see myself being a part of and growing through.
  • Describe SWU in 5 words or less: welcoming, small, Christian, impressive, cozy
  • What is your favorite EHS Track memory? My favorite memory through all of my years of Track and Field at Emerald was at the AAA State Qualifier my freshman year. The exact moment when I realized that I qualified for the State Finals was a moment that I will never forget. It was the first time that I realized that I was a good enough vaulter to compete against the best at the state finals. It was also the first time that I realized that I had a future in pole vault and that there was a possibility for me to continue my career past high school.
  • What are your goals for the remainder of the season? I set a few goals at the beginning of the season that I am still aiming to accomplish. I would love to clear a school record in both pole vault and high jump, but a personal record would be just as rewarding.
  • What makes you a good pole vaulter? I feel like my ability to truly focus and block out all of my surroundings before I start down the runway allows me to be a good vaulter. Also, no matter what the results of a meet are, I keep on going and do not let anything throw me off. I think that ability really sets me apart from other vaulters because I never let the bad days bring me down. I always continue to try my best because I will only improve if I continue to practice harder and harder.

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