Photo by Bill Roseberry
Alton senior LaJarvia Brown announced Monday at AHS that she would continue her illustrious track and field career at Texas A&M University. Pictured (from left) are Brown, her cousin Aryian Johnson, Alton assistant girls’ track and field coach Asaki Carr and head girls’ track and field coach for the Redbirds Terry Mitchell.
When LaJarvia Brown of Alton High signed a track scholarship Monday to go to Texas A&M University, she experienced a variety emotions.
The 5-foot-3, 120-pound senior was excited. She was also happy. And relieved.
The official signing marked a culmination of tireless decision-making on her part. Clemson, Kansas and North Carolina also were at the top of her list and she also visited all three of those schools. Clemson was her second choice.
However, she fell in love with Texas A&M in College Station, about 90 miles northwest of Houston. The Aggies belong to the powerful Southeastern Conference, known for its athletics.
“I really like everything about the school,” said Brown, planning to major in physical therapy at Texas A&M. “The coaches are really good and I wanted to get away from home.”
That’s understandable. She had some tough moments last year, but none rougher when her mom, Lakiesha Dorsey, died in November. Brown decided to dedicate her future deeds to her mom.
“I think she would be proud of me that I made it and am going to college,” Brown said.
Everybody at AHS is just as proud of Brown, a two-time Class 3A IHSA girls’ triple jump champion and the all-time state record holder in that event.
“She’s a great athlete, a great citizen and she represents the school so well,” Alton director of athletics Jeff Alderman said. “She’s also a very good student and humble about what she’s accomplished.
“But she’s a pretty ferocious competitor.”
The desire driving Brown is at the heart of her success. Naturally, she’s talented, yet the aim to improve fires her engines.
“She doesn’t like to lose,” AHS girls’ track coach Terry Mitchell said. “That’s why she is so focused on doing well.”
Mitchell has watched Brown bloom the last six years and points to her dedication as the backbone of her success. Brown has leaped 41 feet, 9 inches in the triple jump and 19-7 in the long jump.
“I remember when she was competing in the sixth grade,” Mitchell said. “She wanted to be a hurdler and long jump in junior high.”
He added, “She has always had a lot of confidence in what she can do and that has helped her along the way. She’s pretty much a self-made athlete.”
Self-made individual, too. That’s one of her strong suits.
“LaJarvia doesn’t get distracted from what she’s doing,” Mitchell said. “It’s so easy to get associated with the wrong people who can put you in a bad way. She doesn’t want that. LaJarvia is an independent person and her friends are athletes.
“She commands a lot of respect.”
AHS girls’ basketball coach Bob Rickman said, “LaJarvia is a privilege to coach and in my 10 years of coaching, she is in the top two or three athletes I’ve had.”
That’s why Texas A&M — and others — sought to recruit her, knowing that Brown could do multiple things for them. She said the Aggies figure to point her toward the triple jump and long jump, but the heptathlon is always a possibility.
“You are talking about a (two-time) state champion and someone that has competed on a national and international stage,” Alderman said.
As Brown put it: “My goal is to get to the 2020 Olympics in the triple jump.”
From where she began and what she has accomplished, it appears that anything is possible for her. Brown has been on a magic carpet ride that should only get more meaningful and perhaps breathtaking.
“It has been a big year,” she said, recapping all the events of the past 12 months. “I’ve experienced a lot, but it’s important for me to remain humble.”
It’s also important for her to keep the spirit of her mom burning brightly.
“She expected a lot from me and losing my mom took a lot out of me,” Brown said. “So everything I do now is for her.”
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