Grayson’s Aliyah Abrams, left, battles Archer’s Serenity Douglas down the stretch of the Class AAAAAA 400-meter dash. Abrams finished second in a time of 54.47 seconds, while Douglas was right behind her in third at 54.61 seconds. (Photo: Tim Morse)
Running has always been something that just came naturally for Serenity Douglas. Since elementary school she has been beating all the girls and the boys in foot races on the playground.
Now, she is recognized as one of the fastest high school girls on the planet before she even begins her junior year at Archer High School.
Her journey to becoming a budding track and field superstar began at a field day at elementary school. Her aunt, Tracy Sands, was watching and saw that Serenity was beating all the boys. Sands informed Douglas’ mother and advised that she encourage Serenity to join a track team. Soon after, Douglas began running for a church track team called Team Voices.
“Running was always just something that I was really good at,” Douglas said. “I never thought it could lead to anything. But one day at an event my mom heard someone say something about a scholarship.
“We were shocked. You can get paid to do this? You can go to college for free? I had no idea how serious it was.”
As she continued to mature Douglas began to hone her skills. She has competed in competitions all across the nation in Kansas, California, Nebraska, Maryland, North Carolina and Texas.
The one thing that has always set her apart is her determination to win. Douglas has run with blisters on her feet so bad that her coach had to carry her to the podium after she still came out victorious.
As she started at Archer High School her brother told her she might be the fastest person in the school. Unfortunately, she didn’t get the chance to show it where she wanted most as she was injured at the state championship meet, meaning she could only compete in the 1,600 relay. Her bad injury luck only fueled her already insatiable desire for greatness.
“I was so disappointed when I got hurt my freshman year and couldn’t compete at state,” Douglas said. “I came back with a vengeance the next year. I wanted to win the 200 and 400 also.”
Now a multiple state champion, Douglas got the opportunity to prove herself at the national level as well. This summer she competed in the USATF Junior Olympics in Houston, Texas. Douglas wanted to prove herself on the biggest stage, but she had some other motivations as well.
“When I was at the starting line I was trying not to think about my competition,” Douglas said. “I had never won an individual national title. So to keep myself calm and not thinking about my competitors, I was just thinking, “The sooner I get this done, the sooner I can drink soda. Once I cross the finish line, I could eat ribs.’”
Apparently, Douglas’ desire for fast food and soda was enough. She won gold in the 400 meters with a time of 53.99 seconds, making her the fastest 16-year-old not just at Archer High School anymore, but in the nation. She also took home the bronze in the 200 meters with a time of 24.48.
So now that she has proven herself on the national stage, what is next for the girl who just started her junior year at Archer high school? She has started hearing from colleges, but one in particular stands out to her.
“Whenever I watch track and field on TV it’s usually college and it always seems like LSU is winning,” Douglas said. “I love their program. I actually visited there on my way to Houston and I love the campus. I haven’t met the coach yet because I am too young but she seems great.”
Before making that decision there is another step in her journey, the World Junior Championships in the summer of 2015. Depending on how that goes, Douglas knows what the next step could be, no matter how crazy it might seem. Because the next step is the Mt. Everest of track and field, the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“I want to be in the Olympics in 2016 so bad,” Douglas said. “That’s so crazy to think that is just two years away. But first is the World Junior Championships next summer in 2015. I know that if I do well there then that will tell me if I can make it.
“I was thinking about it last night in bed actually. Looking around the posters on my wall and thinking I could be racing against those people in two years. That is unreal. But that’s what I want more than anything.”
Some of the heroes on her wall have inspired her as she molds herself into athlete she wants to be. Whether it is track and field superstars like Lolo Jones or LSU graduate Kimberlyn Duncan, she looks at what they do and hopes to duplicate their success. But there is another athlete away from the track that Douglas said inspires her as well.
“Gabby Douglas is someone that really inspires me and not just because she has the same last name as me,” Douglas said. “She is the first African-American to be an individual all-around champion in gymnastics. She has so many trademarks to her name and she is so young. She showed me that I can reach my goals now and inspired to push myself for the Olympics.”
That drive is what has taken Douglas from the school yard beating boys her age to being one of the fastest high school girls on the planet. But she still is the same girl who just loves to run.
“I didn’t get into track and field for all of this recognition,” Douglas said. “It’s incredible that my name is in the paper and I have all of these opportunities.
“Sometimes I get so tired and just want to cry because it’s so hard. I want to be the best so much… but running is what makes me happy. The scholarships, the possibility of one day going professional, that is just extra. I just love to run. I love to push myself to compete and be the best I can be.”