It was a tough choice!

Athletics

It was a tough choice!

Holmwood's quarter-miler Francis says choosing US college was agonising process

BY PAUL A REID
Observer writer
reidp@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, June 19, 2020

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Holmwood Technical's Kavia Francis says accepting a full track and field scholarship to attend Baylor University this year was a dream come through for the sprinter who says she can't wait to get started on the next phase of her life.

Francis, who spent the last two years at Holmwood Technical after transferring from Manchester High, had a handful of choices, and despite achieving one of her dreams, said the process of picking one school from the options was “by far one of the hardest things I had to do in my entire life”.

She will join former Excelsior High hurdler Ackera Nugent, who also accepted an offer to attend the university based in Texas. Both were team members to the Pan American Under-20 Championships in Costa Rica, last year.

Francis, who was part of the Holmwood Technical 4x400m team that was expected to run roughshod over the opposition this season, told the Jamaica Observer this week that “I'm very excited”.

“Actually it [scholarship] has been a big dream of mine to attend an American university and to know that this dream is about to become reality means a lot to me so I'm overly excited,” she said.

While Francis had dreams about getting the opportunity to study and compete at the NCAA level, the athlete, who turns 19 on July 19, said she was not prepared for the stress associated with choosing just one school from the nine offers she got.

Of the nine, which included a junior college, she said she whittled the list down to three schools — Baylor, Clemson University and Florida State University. But the most difficult challenge was selecting one from those three.

“Honestly, this was by far one of the hardest things I had to do in my entire life. Knowing the kind of person I am I always want to leave a smile on everyone's face. I mean for one, I wanted to make the best decision for me, but at the same time, I didn't want to let anyone down and to me it felt like that's what I was doing if I told a school no,” noted Francis.

Help, Francis claimed, came in the form of her Coach Dave Anderson, who was said to have advised her that “no matter what, someone will be left disappointed and someone happy and excited”.

“He told me to think about what I really wanted and do what's best for me... he also helped me through that whole stressing process of making the best choice, [but] in the end I just placed everything in God's hand. And I thank God I had someone helping me through that whole process because it was a rough one at least for me,” she said.

It was “love at first sight”, she said of Baylor, known for producing top-quality quarter-milers including former Olympic champion Michael Johnson and Jeremy Wariner.

“It wasn't my first offer, but when I saw it I knew that this was where I wanted to go. Baylor stood out for me, everyone that spoke to me from Baylor made me feel like I was already apart of the Baylor family and the team and I appreciated that,” shared Francis.

Despite the cancellation of the ISSA Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championship and the Penn Relays, Francis, who ran her personal best 53.38 seconds in the 400m winning the Central Champs Class 1 title at GC Foster, says it was a good year for her.

“This season, excluding the crisis and the whole cancellations, was one of my best ones yet. I was doing great, every individual race that I ran I came out on top. And all my goals that I set out to achieve, up until Central Champs before everything was cancelled, I got. I can't be more grateful with everything I've achieved this season,” she told the Jamaica Observer, while agreeing with the decisions to cancel Champs and Penn Relays.

“Yes, I was in total agreement of Champs and Penns being cancelled, even though it caused a big upset and a lot of discouragements, because of all the hard work which we've put into this season, but in the end our health always comes first,” Francis said.

The chance to leave Manchester High came at the right time, she said.

“I just felt the need for a little change. There were a lot going on in my life then and I just felt it was time for a fresh start and one of my former coaches told me that I should attend Holmwood for the couple of years I had left and I said why not, because it had a good track and field reputation and it was close to home so that was a plus.”

Francis says she has no regrets leaving Manchester High.

“Holmwood has done a lot for me and I don't regret the day I decided I wanted to be there,” said Francis ,who will be studying business entrepreneurship at Baylor.

At the US college, she said her expectations are to “continue improving my times and for me to become stronger and stronger everyday, with the help of the coaching staff and the team”.


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