COVINGTON, Ga. -- When an athlete competes in more than one sport, they work to excel and dominate in both sports in order to make a name for themselves in the community, state and even sometimes the country.
This is the mentality of upcoming Newton senior Elija Godwin, who competes in both football and track and field. For most track athletes, the season ended about a month ago after the state champions were crowned for each class. For many of these same athletes who are also two sport stars, the general focus now turns to the fall and winter sports of football and basketball.
This is not the case for Godwin, who is looking to turn heads in the upcoming Junior Olympic qualifying meet in Sacramento, Calif.
"He is looking to compete,” said Newton track coach Kevin Barnes said. “If he places in the top three, he will compete against other teenagers in the world.”
While Barnes was out on the field late Wednesday morning helping prep some of Newton's younger football players to be ready to for the brutal Region 8-AAAAAAA gauntlet the Rams reside in, he noted that Godwin was absent from football workouts to prepare himself to qualify for the junior Olympian team.
"He is training,” he said. “He’s been doing a lot of track preparation. He’s been plagued by a hamstring injury that he kind of tweaked a little bit when he ran in Oregon, so he’s been doing a lot of rehab on that as well.”
Although this event could lead to something huge for Godwin, not to mention being a boon for the status of Newton's track program, Barnes noted they are still trying to raise all the money they can so he and Godwin are able to attend.
“They do not pay for travel and lodging for the trials," he said. "However, if he qualifies and makes the USA Junior team, all expenses will be paid.”
Barnes and Godwin are needing to raise about $2500 to make this rare opportunity a reality. “I want to be there to help bring a junior Olympian back to our county,” said an optimistic Barnes.
Track and field may be the dominant focus for Godwin now. The rising senior won the Class AAAAAAA state championship in the 200 and 400 meter dash, as well as the high jump. But Barnes made it clear that come the end of June, after the junior Olympic qualifiers are over, he will be ready to “zone in” on football.
Juggling both sports is easy for Godwin, who has several NCAA Division I scholarship offers, and is considered the No. 75 recruiting prospect in Georgia according to 247sports.com. But Barnes says Godwin doesn’t pick a favorite between the sports.
“He’s always said he doesn’t want to make a choice between the two,” said Barnes. "He just wants to be able to play both. Whatever he is doing, I’m supporting him.”