Goreville Schools’ first female track scholar credits relay team for her success
By Joe Rehana
Goreville’s Roxanne Thompson signed a letter of intent with Loyola University New Orleans Monday morning to become the school’s first female athlete to receive a scholarship in track and field.
Thompson credited her opportunity with Loyola to the relay team’s several successes in reaching state the past three years.
“We’ve been lucky to mostly have the same team running the 4×200 relay each year and so I hope my signing with Loyola might inspire more participation with our track program,” Thompson said, adding that she is still “very excited” about the scholarship and is looking forward to attending school in Louisiana.
“It’s a bit of both [difficult and wonderful],” said Roxanne’s mother Mary Thompson, of her daughter attending Loyola. “It’s pretty far away and so it will be a little different having my oldest child that far away, but I’m really happy for her because this is what she’s wanted for a long time.”
Goreville track and field coach Mark Patterson said that the potential for Thompson’s scholarship opportunity became a little more real last year after the relay team made its third return to state.”
“She’s been a tremendous runner; very competitive and determined to do well since her freshman year,” Patterson said. “She’s been an anchor for our 200-meter relay team that’s made it to state the past three years and we’re hoping to make it a fourth [this spring].”
Coach Patterson said he tells his athletes that track and cross country are open fields, good fields to receive scholarships in if they have ability and want to work hard.
“I tell them every year that track is something you can do as an individual,” he said. “You can’t blame your faults on somebody else or things like that. It’s you, and how hard you want to work at it.”
Patterson said the track program has a lot of disadvantages despite its many successes competing across Southern Illinois. There is no actual track to practice on and the school’s several athletic programs compete for a small pool of talent.
“So, I do hope it helps encourage more track and field participation,” he said, adding that Thompson would likely remember her newest record for the rest of her life. “It’s a first for all of us.”
Goreville track and field is set to resume in March and will see Thompson competing in three different relays, the 100-meter dash and the 100 and 200-meter hurdles with the team’s collective goal in reaching state one more time.
“She’s the first and I think it’s a tremendous honor,” Patterson said, adding that he hopes she is the first of many more to come.