POUGHKEEPSIE – Poughkeepsie High School Sophomore Janae Stewart is a relative newcomer to indoor track but that did not stop her from recently being named January’s Student Athlete of the Month.
Stewart, who only started track in November, was surprised, but proud to get the distinction and said it means a lot to her. One of her best times was 8.8 seconds in a 55 Meter Dash.
“Getting this for the first time, I feel like it’s a big opportunity,” Stewart said. “I knew I needed more activities, but then I realized I actually liked it.”
Growing up in Jamaica, Stewart was always interested in sports, but it wasn’t until she came to Poughkeepsie where she decided to pursue track. She appreciates the support and guidance of her coach, Nedra Garriques.
“They don’t discourage you, they always try to lift you up,” Stewart said. “They make me love it more.”
Whether she wins or not, Stewart always feels empowered when running.
“Even if you don’t place, you know that you’re still in that race,” Stewart said. “You know you did your best.”
Being able to balance her school work and practice is crucial for Stewart, who completes her homework during lunch or on the bus journey to meets. She plans to run track next school year.
“You have academics and your sport to focus on,” Stewart explained. “I feel really proud of myself for being able to separate and even manage my time wisely.”
Outside of school, Stewart is an avid reader who volunteers at area libraries such as the Sadie Peterson Delaney African Roots Library and aspires to be a journalist. “I get to go there and read books at the same time,” Stewart said. “I have to read 30 minutes a day and I keep that goal.”
Stewart recommends anyone interested in track step out of their comfort zone and pursue it.
“Put your worries behind you and go for it,” Stewart said. “It’s good to take a risk.”
Garriques nominated Stewart because she has been consistent during practice where she is always willing to learn and advance. She credits Stewart and the other athletes for adapting their running skills to any environment with limited resources.
“We’ve noticed that she set herself apart,” Garriques said. “We’re able to put her in the races where she can run and be the caliber athlete that we need her to be.”