Salute to Seniors: Ya-Sha-Rah Brathwaite of Elizabeth

Salute To Seniors is a medium for "senior farewells". We wanted to give everyone a chance to salute them one more time as well as invite those seniors to tell their stories from the past four years. Thank you to everyone who submitted and are waiting patiently in the queue, entries are now closed. 

Ya-Sha-Rah Brathwaite

Elizabeth HS

    What was your most memorable race/throw/jump/vault/moment?

    My most memorable moment I had was when I was picked to be on News 12 for the Scholar Athlete Week. I was picked because of my outstanding academics, athletics and community service hours I participated in and that resulted in winning the 2018 Wendy's High School Heisman School Winner Award.

    The day I got the news, I yelled excitedly and was jumping all over the place. I yelled for my mother and told her I won, and she was so happy for me, just like the rest of my family. I texted my guidance counselor about it and she told me that she knew and wanted to surprise me with the news. I never thought I would be selected to be on the news, I thought the day I would be on the news would be years later from now, but it came true with the support of God, my family and friends. November 8, 2018 is a day I will never forget, ever.  

    Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?

    My biggest competition over my last four years was Union Catholic, Kent Place, Rahway and Union. My team and I made sure to give it all on the track when racing against them. The competitiveness from each team pushed us to become something and strive to compete to our very best. 

    What was your greatest accomplishment?

    My greatest accomplishments was having the opportunity to run track and field on the Elizabeth Minutemen/Lady Minutemen High School track team. Winning the Union County Conference 200-meter dash title. To be picked one of the scholar athletes in the Union County in Elizabeth, NJ. Being the top 5 finalists in the News 12 Scholar Athlete Luncheon on June 15th and being awarded graciously in both events. Holding 4 individual school records (200-meter dash both indoor and outdoor, 400-meter dash outdoor and 300-meter dash indoor) 7 relay records (4x100, 4x200 both indoor and outdoor, 4x400 both indoor and outdoor, the Swedish relay and the 800-sprint medley) in Elizabeth Public Schools. 

    If you could do it all over again, what would you change about your running or field career in high school?

    If I could do it all over again, I would change the mistakes I made and change them into something better. 

    What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?

    The most difficult obstacles I had to overcome was my mistakes. I'm a very competitive person, I do not like when I lose a race at all. When I lose a race, I get very sensitive and get very quiet. I take that time to reflect on the things I did wrong and make sure to fix it in practice or when I do something right, to make sure I perfect it the fullest. 

    What will you miss the most?

    I will miss running with my sister and my teammates. They were the ones that made my four years something to remember and look back on. The bond I had with my team is something someone can never take away. I will always remember them cheering me on, lifting me up in races, motivating to be the best I can be and vice versa. 

    What advice would you give to younger athlete athletes?

    If you're really passionate about track, go all the way with it. You never know what's in store for you. Don't slack off, strive to be the best, because it will definitely show and pay off in the long run. You're going to make tough sacrifices but trust me it will be worth it in the end. Be humble and you'll go a long way with many blessings. 

    What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?

    My coach, Michael Penta, has given the influences of making me something great throughout my four years. He always believed I can do something if I put my mind to it. Before a race, he gives me a pep talk and on how to run the race, what not to do, be competitive and most importantly, have fun with it. He has shown me that the sport track and field can be intense and competitive, but if I believe I can do it, strive to be in the top and have fun with it, nothing can stop me. He's helped me so much with my college process and put his all into it because he believed my talent was something special. If I ever needed him, he will be right there to help me. In his eyes, I was a "warrior". 

    What are your post-high school plans?

    I will be attending and running at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with many great things to come. 

    Who would you like to say 'thank you' to?

    To my parents: I want to thank them for creating a unique individual like myself. For loving and caring for me for many years to come. For always being the ones to hear about my problems and having great advice to give me. For being my number one supporters and coming to every single track meet I had from freshman year to senior year. For showing me who I am as a person and an athlete. 

    To my siblings: for always showing tough love towards me and showing me what siblings are here for. 

    To my aunt and both my grandmothers: For always praying for me every day that I make something of myself, the love and support you give me and believing in me to make it to the Olympics one day. 

    To Coach Penta: Thank you for going up and beyond for me and believing that my talent is worth fighting for. Thank you for all the talks and advice you've given me, never giving up on your "warrior" and taking care of me as an athlete. 

    To Coach Holman and Tone: thank you for showing me techniques in improving my running and coaching me in becoming a stronger athlete 

    My teammates: thank you for loving and caring me as an athlete and a friend. Thank you for all the laughs and races I've ran with you and would remember and cherish always. 

    To everyone else that has supported me and knew I would do great things in my four years of high school and many to come. Also thanking MileSplit for giving me this opportunity to share my accomplishments and memories.

    Is there anything else you'd like to add?

    "Once you doubt yourself, you're two times defeated. Go above and beyond"

    ~ Ya-Sha-Rah Brathwaite