“I’d rather have a person with less talent and a great attitude because those are people who are always on top of their game,” said Albert Munoz, a coach with the Fayetteville Flyers Track Club.
The club, founded in the late 80s by the Fayetteville Parks and Recreation Department, is dedicated to building the sport of track and field while promoting health and fitness among youth.
Lauren Turner and William Wicks, both of whom are Fort Bragg Family members, seem to have the sort of great attitude that Munoz seeks, and are currently making a national name in track and field.
Turner, 12, daughter of Elizabeth Turner, a chief warrant officer 3 with the Joint Multi Tactical Data Link School, won the 800-meters in the midget girls category at the Region III USA Track and Field National Junior Olympics in Baltimore in July.
“They (Turner and Wicks) both are very disciplined,” Munoz said. “I tell them, ‘if you set goals, you can reach success. You can only have one winner, but if you have a lot of successes, then everyone is a winner.’”
Turner said she anticipated doing well at the Junior Olympics. She concentrated on basic technique such as keeping the knees high to achieve a longer stride and maintaining a slow, even pace with a strong burst at the end of the race.
“I was really proud of the time,” said Turner, who finished in 2 minutes, 23 seconds, and is a three-time, national champion.
And so was her mother.
“I am so proud of Lauren and her accomplishments this year. She told me she was going to win the 800 meters and she did just that. It was great to watch her give everything she had and then see the smile on her face once she realized she had won,” Elizabeth said.
Lauren also did well in the 1500 meter run and the 4x400 relay with her twin sister, Laci, added Elizabeth.
For Lauren, besides the trophies and accolades, running seems to bring its own reward, something that she said can’t be quantified by hardware.
“When I’m running, there’s just something that makes me feel happy — maybe it’s crossing the finish line.”
When Lauren’s not focused on track and field, the seventh grader at Overhills Middle School in Spring Lake, N.C., said she most likes spending time with Laci.
“She’s like the best ever,” said Lauren, who adds that she also enjoys reading mysteries and drawing.
But Lauren has big plans for the future—competing in the 2016 or 2020 Olympics.
“I just know if I go there, I’m going to do great,” Lauren said.
Elizabeth believes her daughter will one day share the Olympic stage.
“I do see Lauren as a future Olympian. She has the determination and drive it takes to develop her talent and potential to become an Olympic champion,” Elizabeth said. “I just hope she continues to love and enjoy running. If she continues to run through high school and college, with her great attitude and some help from some great coaches, she will not only be a national champion, but an Olympic champion.”
But, Lauren is not the only Fayetteville Flyer who has Olympic dreams. Wicks also wants to compete internationally in track and field.
His winning time at the 2012 USATF Junior Olympics was 2 minutes, 3 seconds, and like Turner, he too is a three-time, national champion.
He finished fifth in the 400-meter run this year. In 2011, Wicks won gold as a member of the 4x800 relay team of the Fayetteville Flyers.
But, that’s not all.
He also finished fifth in the youth boys 800-meter run and 16th in the 1500 meter run.
Wicks has begun to establish himself among national athletes, winning gold and silver in the 800 and 1500 meter runs respectively at a 2010 USATF national competition in California.
“I love what he’s doing. It’s really great to watch your son cross the finish line and win a national championship,” Gary said,
Even early on, William knew that competition sharpened his ambitious edge.
“I want to beat every runner every time,” he said. “I run best when I’m being pushed by the competition.”
Now, a ninth grader at Terry Sanford High School, Wicks is routinely either playing or watching sports.
He plays on the varsity soccer team and he lists the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Miami Heat as his two favorite teams.
Turner has advice for other youth who may be nurturing an interest in track and field — consider joining the Fayetteville Flyers.
“The coaches are great. They’re hard but knowledgeable and friendly. Their training and advice helps you win on and off the track,” she said.