Knights’ Corley Maintains Focus
Any athlete knows the importance of maintaining focus. Most of the time, the off-season lasts less than a year, making meeting goals a little more short sighted. What happens when an entire season is canceled and practicing with teammates and coaches is out of the question? How do athletes stay determined to better themselves when initial payoff is still a year away?
Spencer Corley, a Junior at TCHS, has made quite the name for himself in the world of Track and Field. “Last year during my sophomore track season, I broke a 25-year-old high jump record with a jump of 6’6.5″. I was also undefeated in high jump the entire regular season and went on to win Class A High Jump at the State Meet,” Corely said. “Earlier this year, I was ranked nationally for high jump: 5th indoor, 9th outdoor.”
However, Spencer’s mom, Jonay, says the young athlete doesn’t give himself enough credit. “Spencer won’t brag on himself, but he is also an accomplished mid-distance runner. He has qualified for the state meet in the 4×400, 4×800, and 1600. He is also a great Cross Country runner, has been consistently placed in the top 20 since sixth grade and has broken many course records,” she reports.
Corley has been spending his free time wisely. “I spend most of the free time lifting weights in my basement gym, dunking basketballs in my backyard, and doing flips,” he reports. “I started doing gymnastics when I was younger. I think that really helped limber me up for high jump. I also enjoy fishing and kayaking.”
As for training, Spencer has not slacked. “I try to stay active every day by running, playing basketball with my little brother, or lifting weights. Before COVID-19, I worked on high jump with a private coach at least once a week to keep my steps down. In the months leading up to the start of track season I was well on my way to clearing 7′ with the practice band,” reports Corley.
Maintaining focus also means making the best of what is available, according to Corley. “I have been creative when facilities were not available. One time, I took two mattresses from my house and stacked them in my backyard. Then I took an old hammock frame and some rope and made my own high jump standards. I don’t recommend doing that sort of thing, but it worked for me. I posted a video of it on my Instagram page and it got the attention of a coach in California who mentioned it as part of his recruiting letter.”
Corley, in fact, has caught the attention of many colleges hoping to recruit him including California State at Bakersfield, Colorado State, United States Air Force Academy, United States Coast Guard Academy, and College of William & Mary. Spencer says he has not yet committed to any school, but plans to visit the College of William & Mary and the University of Charleston this Summer. “I would like to study political science with an emphasis on homeland security. I have also considered joining the military straight out of high school,” Corley reports.
Corley has a lot to consider when it comes to choosing the college he will attend. “I am looking forward to finding a school that fits my needs. Aside from great track facilities, I want to make sure the school I choose has what I need to be a successful student,” Corley says. “I am dyslexic and that makes learning difficult at times. I have been very fortunate to have teachers who have invested in my education since elementary school. Even though I have a learning disability I’ve been able to maintain a high GPA and excel in the classroom.”
The outpour of love and admiration Spencer has for the ones that have helped him along the journey is undeniable. “I would not be the athlete I am if it weren’t for the coaches who have supported and motivated me over the years. Coach Jacob Myer gave me the chance to try high jump in middle school even though I wasn’t very good at first. Typically, this event is for sprinters and I was a distance runner. But he let me attempt it and helped me with my form. I’ll never forget that.
“Coach Brenna Myer has been with me since sixth grade. She has given me the motivation, discipline and tough love I needed every step of the way.
“Coach Adam Haywood gave me the motivation I needed to drown out the crowd, believe in myself and focus on my goals. He also keeps me humble. Last summer he sacrificed his free time to help coach me at a national track event.
“Coach Aaron Foltz is like an uncle to me. He’s always there when I need him for anything, even if it’s not track related. He boosts my confidence and cheers me on no matter what.
“Coach Matt Bailey never fails to get me in the right mindset before a race. He always hypes me up. He is also very knowledgeable about track and shares that expertise with his athletes.
“I can’t forget my first coach, Coach Luke Reynolds. He was the first person to recognize my gift and push me toward greatness. He is a great man and an amazing mentor.”
Spencer’s family has also been a major source of support during his athletic career. “I am grateful to my parents for the sacrifices of time and money they have made, and for always being patient with me,” Corley says. “I am thankful for the love and support of my brother Gavin, the friendship of runners from the community like Scott Clegg, and for weekly haircuts from my mamaw, because they are lucky!”
So, has the loss of an entire season negatively impacted Spencer’s focus as an athlete? Not according to Jonay. “COVID-19 didn’t ruin Spencer’s chances of competing at the college level,” she says, “It rekindled a fire that has burned in him for years. I have no doubt he will rise to the occasion and prove to everyone that he can compete with the best of the best. Spencer has battled the odds in the classroom and on the track, and each time he faced that adversity with courage and grace. We are very proud of him. No matter where he ends up, I know he will