If you look back in time, you will see that women have been making moves for centuries in all industries. Starting with biblical times to the present, women are known for getting things done. It must feel good to look up to those before us in awe of what they have accomplished, but what happens when you start succeeding those that came before you? That feeling is indescribable.
Olympic gold medalist long jumper Brittney Reese knows that feeling very well. Reese is ranked with some heavy hitters of track and field including legends like Marion Jones and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, beating her personal best time and time again. Although she doesn’t consider herself in those ranks yet, Reese aspires to be like them. “I don’t consider myself in that category yet,” Reese laughs. “Jackie is like a mentor to me and to break her record, it’s just a blessing. I want to be on her level as far as what she does in the community.”
Reese is going to have to get used to her name being amongst legends. Just last year, the Gulfport, Miss. native made history at the 2017 IAAF World Outdoor Championships, winning the USA Track & Field Wing Award, making it her seventh, world championship. Out of all the track and field athletes, not even Jesse Owens nor her mentor, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, has been able to accomplish that.
While being a seven-time world champion is definitely something to brag about, Reese thinks her greatest accomplishment is having the ability to inspire younger athletes, both girls and boys, to go after their dreams no matter what deterrents are blocking them. She believes it’s important for the youth to have someone to look up to. Reese took recent offense to the “shut up and dribble” remark FOX News Commentator Laura Ingraham directed at NBA All-Star LeBron James after he shared his views on being black and a public figure in America during an interview with ESPN.
“Just because we are athletes, we still have the rights to our own opinion,” Reese says. “It’s disrespectful to just say go shoot a basketball or stick to sports. We know more than just sports. We live in this world too, we can use our voices for people to relate to us.”
When Reese isn’t competing, the 31-year-old doesn’t stray too far from her craft. She is currently an assistant track and field coach at San Diego Mesa College as well as starting scholarship funds and foundations in her hometown of Gulfport and Baltimore, Md. Gulfport School District honored the adoptive mother of a 10-year-old son with “Brittney Reese Day” and started the B. Reese Scholarship Fund, a yearly scholarship of $500 given to a male and female student heading to college, which she gives out personally. “It is really important for the kids to put a face with the name,” Reese says. “Especially if they are a person of color, the kids need to see what they have accomplished. No matter what outlet you have been successful in, it’s important to give back.”
With the track and field season vastly approaching and the Winter Olympics coming to a close, Reese admitted to being fascinated by the curling events, she is gearing up to get back to doing what she does best: winning gold medals. She is competing in the IAAF World Indoor Championships overseas in Birmingham, UK. While track and field gets much respect here in the states, Reese says over there it’s on a different level.
“When we compete over there, the event is packed, sold out,” Reese boasts. “Over here, it really depends on where we are at.” Reese hopes to inspire young women to continue in the pursuit of chasing their dreams. Being a prime example of never dreaming too big, her advice is really simple. “Make sure you are hanging around the right people,” Reese says. “It’s easy to get caught up in the wrong crowds, so be smart and continue to reach for the stars.”