Byrd soars to success on and off the track

By Christian Moya & Nouk Keovyphone

Being a student athlete comes with a lot of hard work and dedication. Not only do you have to worry about your classes and assignments, but you have a full-time sport that requires most of your time and effort on top of all of that. Balancing the two can be a hassle at times. Competing in seven events in one meet seems almost impossible. Not for Charisma Byrd.

Her love for track was formed when she was in elementary school. It started off as just something fun to do after school, but then turned into a strong passion that would come with many opportunities.

It was during her sophomore year at Rosary Academy High School in Fullerton that she realized she might have a future in track.

She was inspired by her two older sisters who ran track, as well as her favorite athlete Kobe Bryant.

“I think the Mamba mentality in everything that he thought going into a game, was the same thing that I think going into a competition or meet,” Byrd said.

“Going into practice during the week is really the building blocks for a major competition. Just the way he thought about practice and the way he approached games and just going into what he loved was kind of an inspiration. Even though it wasn’t basketball, I still use that same mentality that he incorporated in his court into my own.”

Charisma Byrd, right, competing in the Rossi Relays during the 2019 season. (Elizabeth Hernandez | The Poly Post)

Currently, Byrd is a member of the indoor women’s track and field team at CPP, where she puts her body to the test every meet.

Being a heptathlete requires dedication to seven events that take strength from her whole body. The seven events include 100-meter hurdles, 200-meter dash, high jump, shot put, long jump, javelin and 800-meter dash.

Byrd mentions that her favorite event she has ever done is the high jump. Not only is that one of the seven events that she’s had success in, she loves how technical it is and how it takes a very specific approach to be able to hit a quality jump. She raves about how hard the technicality is, but it is still her favorite event to do. It challenges her to be better each time, which makes it even more fun for her within competition against others and also herself.

Head coach Chris Bradford praised Byrd’s work ethic throughout the three years he has coached her. “I think she is the type of person who isn’t always that vocal leader, she’ll show who she is through her work ethic. As a heptathlete, she is out there for hours and hours and hours working, and that’s what I would say (where) her leadership comes from,” Bradford said.

Byrd has learned how adaptable she is when it comes to life. Juggling being a student athlete and finding time for studies has not stopped Byrd from pursuing her goals. Her biggest goal is to become a doctor. She looks to journey into medical school right after she graduates with her undergraduate degree in kinesiology.

If there is one thing she will take with her beyond graduation, it would be knowing the true definition of family.

“Even though it’s an individual sport, the individuality brings us together in a weird way. So I think the idea of family, I am able to incorporate that into different aspects in my life, whether it’s my actual family, my friends or (acting) as a team player in my career.”

Byrd’s work ethic doesn’t go unnoticed by her coach, or even her best friend who is also her teammate on the track and field team. Senior Imani Williams is also a multi-events athlete who happens to have a special friendship with Byrd. The two athletes have known each other for four years and have grown to become best friends over time.

“She’s very motivated and works hard. She stays focused and when she makes a goal, she does everything she can to achieve it,” Williams said.

The hard work that Byrd puts into the sport of track and field, as well as her future, doesn’t go unnoticed. Byrd has a bright future ahead of her and it is clear that her determination speaks for itself.

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