This story appears in FCA Magazine’s July/August 2017 issue. Subscribe today!
Born: April 24, 1991
Hometown: Palmetto, Florida
College: Murray State
Turned Pro: 2013
• Competed at the 2012 and 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials
• Three-time NCAA All-American (2011-12)
• 2012 Ohio Valley Conference Female Track Athlete of the Year
• 2012 Athlete of the Ohio Valley Conference Outdoor Championships
“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13
My childhood was challenging. I spent the first four years of my life with my mother, but then she encountered some struggles, so my three siblings and I moved in with my grandmother.
During those early years, I often felt lost and alone. Looking back now, I realize how special my grandmother was to take us in and care for all of us like she did. She’d wake up early and read her Bible every morning, and every Sunday we were at church. She instilled so much in me that I still carry with me today.
I believe the early hardships I faced actually led me to track. When I was about 12, I followed one of my best friends to track practice instead of going home. I tried out for the team and made it.
I’ll always remember my first 200-meter race. I was so nervous that I forgot to tie my shoes. Sure enough, about halfway through the race my shoe came flying off, but I still managed to win! From that moment on, I was hooked. The track became my safe haven and escape.
During my senior year in high school, I attended my first FCA meeting. I could feel the love in that room. Kids were praying for each other, and I could tell they genuinely cared; it was a life-changing experience. That same year, I qualified for the Florida High School State Championships for the second time, which earned me a lot of recognition and attention from colleges in the surrounding area. I visited several of them, but eventually ended up choosing one further away from home, a place that had showed me such care and attention—Murray State University in Kentucky.
Leaving my family behind was difficult, and that was compounded by the fact that I only competed on a limited basis during my first two years. As a freshman, I wasn’t initially cleared to complete due to my exercise-induced asthma, and then as a sophomore I suffered a hamstring injury.
It was a tough time.
I was down and depressed about not being able to run, questioning whether Murray State had been the right choice after all. But it was in that valley where I felt God reveal Himself to me in new ways.
My teammates came around me and prayed with me. They invited me to Bible study, and I attended the FCA Huddle on campus. Being there reminded me that I had a purpose in life, and that God didn’t want me to give up. It was just this hope inside of me—the same feeling I had when I went to FCA in high school. I knew it was real.
After that moment at the FCA Huddle, I started praying. And I started believing. At one point I was in my room bawling out, “Lord, this is my first time really coming to You. I trust You. I believe You.” Things just started to change then. To this day, I still cannot quite explain it, but I just felt this sense of peace wash over me.
At track practice the following week, I was a new person. I was running faster, like a lifelong weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I had this force behind me, and I know it was because of that prayer.
My final two years at Murray State were amazing. I felt unstoppable. I was winning races, and I qualified for the Olympic Trials for the first time, went to nationals, and became a three-time All-American. I hadn’t given much thought to running professionally after college, but as I was packing my room after graduation in 2013, I received an email from a coach in Dallas asking if I’d like to come train with him. I graciously accepted his offer.
Now, almost four years later, God has walked me through so many new experiences. New coaches, new cities, even new jobs to support my running career. Through it all, I’m still competing. God has taken me on the long, scenic route—full of defeat, failures and struggles—so I could learn to savor success even more.
I never thought I would be in this place. I feel like I can finally be myself. I feel free, both on and off the track. Everything is different. My eyes are open. I see things clearly and hear His voice.
My ultimate goal will always be to compete in the Olympics. I’ve been one step away two separate times, but I’ve come to understand that the most important part of my life is following God’s will and living a life that is pleasing to Him.
Photos courtesy of Alexis Love