Brandy Ray was one of several athletes who were left uncertain if they would be able to compete this season after missing out on cross country. Brandy is the top contender in the distance events as the season dwindles down and today we get to know more about her hobbies, covid training, and some things she'd like to cross off her bucket list someday in our Getting to Know New Mexico Athletes Series.
When did you first start competing in track and field, and do you recall any of your childhood competitions?
I started competing in my middle school years during 7th grade, I only focused more on the 800 and 1600 since I was told I had good endurance for a runner. At a younger age, I did cross country, but never took it seriously until I became more competitive in middle school. The only sports I did were football, basketball, and track and field. When I entered high school that all changed when I choose to focus more on running rather than other sports offered.
Was there a certain moment when you realized you'd be able to compete at such a high level?
It was a time during my cross country preseason where I was told I was running with the varsity runners. I was an incoming freshman running with Navajo Prep, when one practice came I was moved to run off-campus. It was at that moment my teammate turned to me and said "Congratulations you made the varsity team!" I was scared at first, but soon after my first season of running, I made it to state where I would place 16th in the 4A. It gave me hope going into Track and Field.
What are some bumps in the road that you've encountered when it comes to training for different events during the season?
Some bumps in the road I have encountered were mainly small injuries and academics. During my cross country season, I would experience some hip pain with shin splints. When it came to track, I made sure to always see our athletic trainer have it massaged out or stretch earlier before practice for my hip. With academics, it came to know how to time manage. For the longer distance events, you need more sleep, and that's where I had to prioritize what I was doing during the day. Making sure I had my assignments in on time, I was doing it right after practice than later in the night so I can get sleep. Sleep is very important too since my injuries needed time to recover as well. However, when I finally managed all those small bumps I had a smooth season and as of now since school ended, I can now pay more attention to my main events without worrying about other needs.
How did COVID impact your training as you prepared for the season?
Covid has definitely helped me have better off-season training for track. Unfortunately, my cross country season was canceled, but I was given the opportunity to train with my Track coach's cross country team during that offseason with my brother. Within the past 6 months, we are now using that offseason training for track since it is longer than cross country. Overall, our coach has helped us stay motivated for our track season, and my hope for a track season stayed in the back of my mind when cross country was canceled for me.
If you had to pick: Track and Field or Cross Country, and why?
I would have to choose track and field, as much as I love cross country and its benefits, there is something about track that sparks joy in me. I love being around my friends during practice who are in a variety of events. I also love how track has a variety of events to do, which I have found a love for the 3200-meter run. I know most runners find it painful, but to me, longer distances are more of my strength. Track and field also allow me to meet so many amazing runners as well and lets me meet new runners in my event as well.
How is the college recruiting process going, and what schools are you looking at?
The college recruiting process has been one joy ride. The more I met with coach's, the more I was excited to see where I would be going. I've looked at so many colleges, being accepted to 19 schools total. One thing I'm grateful for is my recruiter Andy Gains, he helped me through the whole process all the way down to when I finally choose a school. As of now, I have officially signed with a school.
Where are you going to college? If you have already committed, what made you choose them?
I have signed with Southwestern Oregon Community College in Coos bay Oregon. What had made me choose them was how the coach talked to me and what he saw in me. He saw potential in me and believed in me, which is one thing I need when it comes to running. I am grateful to receive a full scholarship to the school as well and ready to meet my new future teammates.
Is there another track event you wish you were good at? What is appealing about it?
I wish I was good at the 800, I have run it but to help me in my main event. Although it is a painful two laps around the track, I liked it because I got it over in under 3 minutes. I think I could get better at the event if I worked at the right little details the event requires, but to me, I would love to be good at the event as well.
What are some hobbies and interests you have outside of running?
I love the outdoors and helping around me. I've been taught to always help others, and where ever I am, I always ask if they need help. It could be school-related, family, sports, birthdays, just about anything. I also love being outdoors, I enjoy hiking new trails, biking, walking. I enjoy camping as well with my family. Overall, I also love being an ambassador for what I believe in. I was an ambassador for my high school Navajo Prep and the Dual Credit program at San Juan College.
Who is your role model, and why?
I really have no role models, I knew it was up to me to decide on what I want. To me, I just need someone else to believe in what I can do. To an extent, I know I can do many things but when someone believes in me, I know I can do it.
Everyone has a bucket list, so give us some of the things on your list!
Definitely visiting Dubai is on my bucket list, I believe it's a beautiful place and filled with many riches in culture, location, and what can be hidden. I would also love to visit as many national parks as I can, getting the opportunity to work in one makes me appreciate what Park Rangers do for them so I would love to visit more as well. The last would be giving back to my family, they have done so much for me that I want to give back to them as well.
What is the best advice you have received?
The best advice I have received is to keep going. There were many times I wanted to give up, with running, academics, my own interests. But in the end, I knew there was going to be a reward or something in return I would get. There's always a light at the end of the tunnel.
What is your favorite pre-race snack, tradition, etc.?
My favorite pre-race snack would have to be peanut butter and banana toast, it is so good with a cup of coffee to wake me up in the morning. A pre-race tradition would have to be drinking a whole bottle of Pedialyte (specifically strawberry lemonade) in order to be hydrated the next day.
If you could do a sport other than XC/Track, what sport would it be, and why?
I think I would either continue doing football or basketball. It was the two sports I did in middle school before I focused on running. I love being competitive and growing up with 5 brothers made me want to be more physical in sports (still love them all though!)
Brandy's 2021 Season Stats
2021 - Outdoor
800 Meter Run
1600 Meter Run