In this week’s Senior Moments, Hampton-bound track star Anaiah Brown of St. Mary’s Academy-Inglewood shares how her faith has made her a better runner, why she has omitted the word “can’t” from her vocabulary, and how her refusal to fall behind has helped her not only win races on the track, but also overcome tremendous adversity off it.
You have a really beautiful, interesting first name. How did your mother choose “Anaiah?”Anaiah Brown: “Anaiah” is a Hebrew name from the Bible, which means “miracle baby” (literally, “God has answered”). My sisters’ names come from the Bible as well: Imani (“faithful person”) and Isis (“the one from the throne”). My mom believes that your name is a huge part of people’s first impression of you. And my mom always wanted us to make a great impression.
How were you able to stay positive after your injury (which prevented her from running from 4th-9th grade) and get back to top form?It was hard. I had totally lost faith in running. It felt like everyone else was ahead of me. Thankfully, I have an amazing coach. Coach [Robert] King. He’s always there for you. He knew us so well and never pushed us too hard. I enjoyed it so much more for having had him as a coach.
How do you prepare for a meet?My teammates and I pray before every race. Prayer does amazing things. Praying to God calms me. He’s always had my back. Having faith has made me a better runner. Every time I ran for St. Mary’s, I felt like I had someone on my side, no matter what. Even those years when I was injured, I feel it was God telling me “wait.” It all paid off in the long run.
Once you’re off and running, what do you think about? Or is it all a blur?It’s kind of a blur. Before the race, when I’m warming up, I’m very aware of my physical presence on the track. But once the race starts, I don’t feel like I’m there. It’s as if only my mind is moving around the track, if that makes sense. I just pray not to trip! [laughs] And keep my form. And keep breathing.
If you had to choose between winning an individual race or winning a relay, which would you choose?Man, that’s a tough one. I would shoot for the stars and try to win both! Believe me, I want to win individual medals. But winning a relay is a whole other feeling.
Of all your accomplishments on the track this past season, which one are you most proud of?The Texas Relays [at which St. Mary’s earned first place in the 4x100 and 4x200 meter relays]. There were only six of us, but we had no doubt. That really comes from Coach King. The word “can’t” isn’t in our vocabulary. He doesn’t allow us to say it anywhere! That has really changed my outlook on track. I feel like there’s nothing you can’t do, if you set your mind to it.
What are your plans for after track comes to an end?
I want to be, no, I have to be a doctor. A neonatologist. I was born prematurely, and someone was there to help me. I want to help someone in return. I plan to study medical science at Hampton to achieve that end.