The Down Under Games are sponsored by International Sports Specialists, Inc. It was started by a George OScanlon, a New Zealander who fell in love with American Football. OScanlons goal was to expose the people of New Zealand and Australia to the sport. In 1989, the competition began with the one sport and participants from only four states. Now, the games consist of an all-star line-up from all 50 states with participation in a number of sports including, track and field, cross country, football, basketball, cheerleading, wrestling, swimming, golf, soccer, and volleyball.
ONE OF THE BEST
Hency will be among some of the best track and field athletes in the nation to represent the USA, Team Michigan, and most specifically, her community. And with all the fund-raising needed to participate this summer, Hency says she is grateful for all that her community has done to support her.
A lot of the money has come from friends and family, some of it from local businesses. Right now we are about half-way there, Hency says of her fund-raising needs.
Hency began in her sport at 12 years old. Immediately, she fell in love with the hurdle races. Now 17, she is competing with the best in the 100 meter and 300 meter hurdle events. Last season, Hency posted personal best times of 16.3 and 49.0 respectively and competed at the state competition in the 300 race. When needed, she also helps her team with the sprint races and is a member of the 4x200 relay.
Going into (senior) year, I feel stronger than last season, Hency says. We have a new coach and we are really focusing on core strength with more abdominal workouts.
As a senior and a natural leader, Hency was voted by her teammates as one of the team captains. We have a really young team this year with a lot of freshman, but I am still looking forward to a good season, stated Hency.
In the fall, Hency plans to continue her track career at the collegiate level. She will be attending Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids and most likely studying social work. I think I would like to go into Child Welfare, states Hency. Cornerstone University is a private school and is a part of the NAIA, National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
ON HER OWN
Since the state meet for High School competition is June 3, and Hency will not be leaving for the Down Under competition until July 1, she will need to continue training on her own. I will probably work with my assistant coach after the regular season ends. She has been with me since I was in junior high and she probably knows me the best.
Competing in Australia against the best in the nation and from other parts of the world will surely prove to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for any young athlete. But the competition can also come with an tremendous amount of pressure to perform well. Especially since Hency does not know of any other athletes that will be on Team Michigan and she will not even know the events she will compete in until a few days before the meet.
Fortunately, Hency seems to have a positive attitude that embraces the spirit of the games and of any competition.
I would love to have some great times, but mostly, I just think it will be a great opportunity to run with some new competition, states Hency.
Krista Hirr is a freelance writer from Traverse City. This is her first story in the Express.