From Passion to Perseverance: How Veronica Barney Flew to States


The 2023 Virginia High School League (VHSL) Indoor Track State Championship took place on February 27th and 28th. After traveling to Lynchburg, Virginia, triple and long jump athlete Veronica Barney was excited for the most important jump of her athletic career.
But Barney’s journey didn’t start on this Virginia track, “I’ve been doing Track and Field since my sophomore year,” recalled Barney. “My uncle, a former track coach… he’s been asking me to do track since I was five.” Sophomore year was the year she finally gave in.
She decided to focus on the triple jump and long jump. “It’s more laid back,” explained Barney, “I like that you have like multiple tries to get it right and… the feeling like you’re flying to the air is really fun, especially if it’s coming off of your own momentum.”
Though she didn’t gain much momentum her first year of indoor track, Barney pushed through. At the beginning of the 2022-2023 season, she remembers feeling left out at the first meet: “I was expecting a huge PR and I didn’t even qualify for districts in anything… Everyone seemed like they had a great meeting and [for me] it just wasn’t so.” Instead of giving up, Veronica worked on building up her skills, focusing on the little things, and talking to her coaches.
“I qualified the next meet or the meet after..” stated Barney. Qualifying for Districts may have been a challenge, but if she wanted to continue her season even farther, she would have to keep up the hard work. “[Districts] was a nail biter because I wanted to qualify for regionals,” said Barney, “I had to get into the top six and I placed fifth… So I was proud of that.”
Barney’s season continued into February and with a focus on triple jump, as that was the event she qualified for. On February 13th, Barney left school early to head down to Shenandoah University for the Regionals Meet. She competed in triple jump later in the evening, “I was just kind of bored the whole time and I didn’t really have anything to do,” recalled Banrey, “so I just tried to let my mind relax and think back to my practice strategies.”
In the weeks before the race, Barney had been working with her coach, Coach Paris. “He said, you gotta be competitive. So he had me do things I wouldn’t normally do and try new ways and new techniques…” During the triple jump, Barney says she remembered her training and “… went at it to be competitive.”
Barney placed third in triple jump, qualifying her for the VHSL Indoor Track State Championship Meet. “I made states and it was tricky, but that was pretty exhilarating.” Over the next couple weeks, Barney trained for States. When asked who supported her along this journey, Barney wanted to thank her uncle and all of the track coaches, Coach Paris, Coach Brooks, Coach Forester, and Coach Harry, who continued to support her as she trained for states. “[The coaches] have really high expectations of me and push me to be better.”
Barney traveled to Lynchburg with the qualifiers and stayed overnight, competing on the second day. “It was cool being around so many good athletes because this is the best in the state. It’s just crazy to watch everyone get out there and be competitive that first day.” On the second bay, Barney prepared for her jump. After pulling her hamstring and hip flexor a week before, she wasn’t feeling the most confident, but continued pushing.
“[States was] probably the best form I’ve had in Triple Jump, but I… couldn’t push myself as much as I wanted to.” Even though she placed 12th, Barney stayed positive, “The jump quality wasn’t good, but I was just happy to be there. And that was the biggest takeaway because now that I’ve done it, I can do it again better…”
From her first day in sophomore year, to her triple jump at States, Barney says she’s always learning. “I learned resilience and how to be a better person and a better athlete… I don’t think many people thought I would be a good athlete, including myself; so being able to go after that and show for myself that I am able to achieve my goals is really rewarding.”
Barney plans to continue competing in long and triple jump next season and hopes to return to states next year, as well as pushing herself out of her comfort zone and trying discus for the first time in the spring track season.