A Different Path
Guideposts|March 2020
I ran track in high school. Was I pushing my daughter too hard to follow in my steps?
TONYA MAY AVENT

I GREW UP PLAYING SPORTS. BOTH my parents played multiple sports in high school, and my dad went to college on a football scholarship. I played softball as a child and excelled on my high school field hockey and track teams. My husband, Kenny, was playing professional basketball overseas when we met. He now works in education and coaches youth and high school basketball.

Kenny and I weren’t surprised when our daughters, Kennedi and Kassadi, showed early athletic promise. Watching them outrun other kids on the playground, I knew they were destined for greatness on the track. Kennedi, our older daughter, was competing in the Junior Olympics track and field championships by age seven. Kassadi wasn’t far behind.

By the time Kennedi started middle school, our family life revolved around practices, track meets, plus regional and national championships. I had visions of college scholarships, maybe even the Olympics.

I did not envision sitting in a pediatric orthopedist’s office almost two years ago, staring at an MRI image as the doctor calmly explained that Kennedi’s posterior cruciate ligament—the thick tissue stabilizing the back of her knee—was torn. Her season was over.

“Immediate surgery might be necessary,” the doctor said. “I’ve almost never seen this kind of injury in a child. It’s a complicated repair, and recovery can take a long time. She might not regain full athletic function.”

Kennedi was 13 years old. The day before, at a regional Junior Olympics qualifying event, she’d misjudged her long jump landing and ended up sprawled in the sand pit, screaming in pain.

This was not supposed to happen. Sports weren’t just part of my family life. They were part of my prayer life. Athletic accomplishment was God’s gift to my family. Part of our story. The story was supposed to end at the Olympics. Not in the operating room.

The doctor kept talking, but I had a hard time following the words. Why, God? How could you do this to my child?

I didn’t set out to become a track mom. Kenny and I weren’t thinking Olympics when we signed the girls up for track. We knew they were fast, but we had an open mind.

Still, I couldn’t help noticing at the first practice that Kennedi was especially good at sprints and the long jump. By the time the season ended, I was crushed when she didn’t qualify for the regional Junior Olympics. She was only six years old.

The next year, she qualified and made it into the national finals. I began to think we might have a future track star on our hands.

KENNY AND I TALKED ABOUT IT, prayed about it and decided to make track a household priority. That meant committing to a full schedule of practices, extra workouts, meets and faraway championships.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM GUIDEPOSTSView All

The Legacy of Flight 93

An Army officer remembers his cousin Rich Guadagno and the other 39 heroes who died in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on September 11

5 mins read
Guideposts
August/September 2021

The List

After two divorces, did I really know what I wanted in a relationship? Did I even know who I needed to be?

8 mins read
Guideposts
August/September 2021

“God Will Bless Your Business

George Turner was sure the pandemic would spell the end of his struggling bike shop. His pastor had other ideas

5 mins read
Guideposts
August/September 2021

The 46th Peak

We decided to do this last hike of the challenge together. Partway down, I heard my husband scream

7 mins read
Guideposts
August/September 2021

Challenge Yourself to...Connect More!

Eager to emerge from the loneliness of lockdown and socialize again? We’ve put together a list of 15 challenges for reconnecting with the people you care about—and making new friends too. Focus on a few activities, or pick one each day to try over the next two months. Pay attention to how your relationships flourish!

2 mins read
Guideposts
August/September 2021

Reason for Hope

I feared my son would never get off drugs. Until an art class changed my heart

8 mins read
Guideposts
August/September 2021

Pistol

He was the dog I always wanted. But he came with baggage, a little like me

7 mins read
Guideposts
August/September 2021

ALONE WITH MY FAITH

The pandemic left a lot of us feeling isolated. Including me. But it opened the door to something deeper in my music and in my soul

9 mins read
Guideposts
August/September 2021

Brought Together

How two strangers found friendship and healing as they came to terms with the legacy of slavery

9 mins read
Guideposts
August/September 2021

70 Years of Hope & Inspiration

Elizabeth Sherrill’s life as a writer has been a journey of the soul, a journey that also became the very soul of Guideposts magazine

8 mins read
Guideposts
August/September 2021
RELATED STORIES

MR. OLYMPIA FAT-LOSS STACK

FAT ATTACK

10+ mins read
Muscular Development
October 2021

Reviewing the best Giants' WRs of all time

2021 hopes to be the Year of the Receiver for the New York Giants.

3 mins read
The Giant Insider
September 19, 2021

THE SILENT ASSASSIN

Kenny Golladay doesn’t say much, but he aims to destroy opponents on Sundays

4 mins read
The Giant Insider
August 29, 2021

JAW TRAINING FOR STRIKERS

NEWS FLASH: FIGHTERS GET PUNCHED IN THE JAW! THE JAW AND ITS HINGES, ALONG WITH THE CHIN, ARE COMMON TARGETS FOR KNOCKOUT ARTISTS. A WELL-PLACED PUNCH TO THE JAW CAN RENDER AN OTHERWISE TREMENDOUSLY CONDITIONED ATHLETE UNCONSCIOUS IN A HEARTBEAT.

3 mins read
Black Belt
August/September 2021

5 EXPERT TIPS

HOW TO RACE IN LIGHT WINDS WITH TIDE

4 mins read
Yachting World
September 2021

GAMES ON!

Maybe it’s the one-year delay. Maybe it’s the global pandemic that caused that delay and lends these Olympics more significance than any in recent memory. Or perhaps it’s the fresh energy of new events. Regardless, now—finally—is the time to learn about the athletes and sports the whole world will soon be watching.

10+ mins read
Men's Journal
May - June 2021

LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

Simone Biles leads Team USA to Tokyo—finally—for the Summer Olympics. Here’s your guide to the most compelling competitors going for gold in your favorite sports

9 mins read
TV Guide Magazine
July 19 - August 01, 2021

GEARHEADS

WALNUT HILL

6 mins read
Rifle
July - August 2021

THE CONTENDER

AN OWNER-BUILT 1,500HP RAM TAKES AIM AT UCC

4 mins read
Diesel World
April 2021

THE PEOPLE'S CHAMP

TOPPS’ ONLINE SET LOOKS AT LEGEND’S LIFE, CAREER AND LEGACY

2 mins read
Sports Card Monthly
March 2021