Reese is a two-time world champion and four-time U.S. champion
July 7, 2011
By Natalie Myers
Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations student assistant
When Gulfport High School's track and field team was in need of a long jumper, Brittney Reese's coach was hesitant to let her try out. Reese was already involved in six other events, and adding long jump to the list did not seem like an option.
But Reese was persistent about trying out, and all it took was one jump for Reese to be pulled from the 400 meters and tabbed as the school's new long jumper.
Fast forward nine years. Reese stands out as probably the best female track and field athlete in Ole Miss history. She participated in the 2008 Olympics and earned the 2009 and 2010 World Championship in the long jump.
The world-class athlete, who once chose basketball over track at Gulf Coast Community College, recently captured her fourth straight U.S. national title in the long jump to firmly establish herself as one of the best in the event in the country's history.
Despite all her accomplishments, the 24-year-old still has more dreams and aspirations for her career. Although she has medals, trophies and world titles to justify all her hard work, she continues to train every day for the 2012 Olympics. She is testing her own limits by trying to beat her personal long jump record of 7.19 meters that she set at the 2011 USA Outdoor Championships - which happened to be the best jump in the world this year.
Reese accomplished one of her greatest goals, however, when she returned to Ole Miss this past spring semester to complete her degree. She graduated in May with a bachelor's degree in English and a minor in psychology.
"Getting your degree is a serious matter because what if you get hurt?" Reese posed. "What are you going to fall back on? A lot of kids now are turning pro when they really don't have to, and professionals are not going anywhere."
Throughout her successful career as an athlete, Reese says she always knew she was going to finish her degree.
"It was kind of tough sitting out, coming back, sitting out and coming back, but I'm glad I finally finished," Reese said about completing her degree. With the cooperation of the University's English and Psychology departments, and her determination, Reese proved to be just as successful in the classroom as she is on the track.
Reese also had the support from her mother, Carla Young, and her coach, Joe Walker, when returning to the classroom.
Walker, who just completed his 29th year at the helm of the Ole Miss program and has served as Reese's personal coach since she went pro after the 2008 season, describes Reese as a humble person, a fierce competitor and one of the best he's ever coached.
"Brittney is a great Ole Miss track alum and represents us well," her coach said with pride.
Walker believes it was important for Reese to finish her degree, saying that obtaining an education is why any athlete would accept a scholarship to a university and that athletics is just a bonus. "You can only do athletics for so long," he said.
Reese does not believe this is the end of the road for her education. She has contemplated attending graduate school or possibly pursuing an additional bachelor's degree in psychology. However, that is something that may have to wait until her long jump career has ended.
Reese's advice to anyone who wants to pursue a career in athletics is to never let that dream override your education. She said that even if someone is currently a professional athlete, they can still get their degree.
Senior quarterback Bo Wallace, like his head coach, stepped into a program that had won just two games in 2011 and had lost 14 straight games. Three years later, Wallace helped lead the ninth-ranked Rebels to their first nine-win regular... read more
Official welcome to Chad Kelly, the No. 1 JUCO QB in the country from national champion East Mississippi CC. #HottyToddy-- Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) December 17, 2014 Just Sent My LOI In To The University Of Mississippi!!! Feel's Good To... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewDec. 8-14, 2014Women's Basketball- The Ole Miss women's basketball team rebounded with a 88-48 win over South Alabama on Sunday. The win was the first after back-to-back losses for the Rebels for the first time... read more
Ole Miss Details Stadium Expansion Plans Ole Miss unveiled the master plan for Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, which includes two phases of renovation and expansion. Scheduled for completion by the start of the 2016 season, the expansion will bring the seating capacity... read more
With final exam week on the Ole Miss campus, there was not much game action, but there's still plenty to talk about, as Ole Miss finalized salary increases for head football coach Hugh Freeze and his staff, and the football... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewDec. 1-7, 2014Football- No. 9 Ole Miss accepted an invitation to play in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, where they will face No. 6 TCU on Dec. 31 in Atlanta's Georgia Dime.- Ole Miss is making... read more
While the Rebels have enjoyed a solid fall on the fields and courts and look forward to the upcoming Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and more basketball games, all student-athletes are busy this week proving they are champions in the classroom... read more
In the early part of the week, Athletics Director Ross Bjork and head football coach Hugh Freeze reached an agreement on a new contract. In the late part of the week, the Rebels learned their postseason bowl destination. Here are... read more
Ole Miss continued its strong bounce-back from a season-opening loss to Charleston Southern, improving to 5-1 on the season and knocking off two previously unbeaten opponents in No. 23 Creighton and Cincinnati to capture the inaugural Emerald Coast Classic. "We... read more
Athletics Director Ross Bjork and head football coach Hugh Freeze reached an agreement on a new contract, they both announced on Twitter early Tuesday morning. Terms will be released as they are finalized and are expected in the coming days.... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review Nov. 24-30, 2014Football- No. 18 Ole Miss won the annual "Egg Bowl" rivalry 31-17 over No. 4 Mississippi State in front of another sold-out crowd at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Saturday afternoon.- The Rebels finish the... read more
Ole Miss collected a lot of hardware over the weekend, as the football team reclaimed the Egg Bowl trophy and the men's and women's basketball returned home with regular-season tournament championship. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week... read more