If you’re a parent, you have experienced waiting on your little one to walk, and then once they are walking on their own, it’s not long before they’re running. Will Atkins, a junior at West Forsyth High School in Clemmons, NC, was much like any other child, but when he was in the 7th grade, running took on a different meaning. He decided with his new interest in running that he would run track, training by running cross country to get and stay in shape. Since the age of 12, Will has been running and hasn’t looked back, recently adding quite an accomplishment: State Champion in the 1000m along with a trip to the national meet in New York City.
Will Atkins is an athlete in the rather solitary sport of running, yet he knows he is where he is today because of the support of his family. “I was born and raised in Winston-Salem, NC, and have gone to school in Clemmons my whole life. I have two wonderful parents, Robin and Chris Atkins, who are supportive and believe in me, and a sister, Meredith, who is my best friend. I started running competitively at Clemmons Middle School and I got more serious once I reached West Forsyth,” said Will. You may think that cross country running is only a warm-weather sport, but Will runs year around.
“I run cross country in the fall, then I run Winter Track, moving into Spring Track. Official competitions are generally held in the spring and summer, but most athletes train and run all year. My competitions have taken me all over the East Coast and North Carolina. With the schedule that I have to keep, I put most of my spare time into running and competing to get better. My parents support me and sacrifice a lot so that I can do what I love. As you can imagine, we have to travel a lot to attend all the meets I compete in throughout the year,” Will commented. Doing what he loves and all those hours and miles of running led Will to winning the 1000m in the State Championship held at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem in February of this year.
“February 9th, 2019, was an amazing day. To win the state championship has been a dream of mine for some time now and I was extremely happy to accomplish that goal. Based on my time and performance in the state championship, I am currently ranked 3rd in the nation and was invited to a national meet in New York City. This was the second time I have qualified for the national meet. The next step in my training and competing will be to keep working hard, and try my best to have fun and enjoy everything that comes my way,” stated Will.
To make it to the national competition in NYC, Will, along with other runners from all over the country, had to meet a qualifying time, adding intensity to Will’s efforts.
To help Will with his costs in NYC, he raised funds with the help of a local restaurant.
“The first time I went to the national meet, my freshman year in high school, my dad thought that we could raise some money by selling PDQ cards to people, and it worked out well, so we partnered with PDQ again. We sold $10 gift cards for $6. Having the support of family and friends means so much to our family.”
Looking back at the season for Will has been so rewarding. At the beginning of the season, Will made his goal cards for both events. He put for the 1000 his goal time of a 2:31 and that he wanted to be the State Champ and he met that goal. For the 800 goal card, he put a time of 1:54.5 and that he wanted to go to NYC and run at Nationals, as well as medal in his event, and that is exactly what he did.
“The national competition was March 8th-11th, and I ran the 800m, placing 5th in the nation in the group, Emerging Elite, and had a personal record of 1:54.52. It was an amazing way to finish my indoor track season this year,” Will said.