Name: Tiara Tardy
School: Mount Desert Island High School
What was your most memorable race?
My most memorable race was definitely my last New England's competition. I raced the 4x800m relay with my team, and we set the fastest time in the State for the outdoor track season. I turned around and ran a 2:09.64 open 800m to set the All-time Maine record as well as a new personal best. It was such an amazing, unpredicted moment. I felt such a huge rush of joy and relief after I crossed the finish line.
Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?
My biggest competition over my four years has definitely been Katherine Leggat-Barr. She is such an incredible, strong athlete, and she inspire me in many ways. Running has really given me the opportunity to meet so many amazing people, like Katherine. I am so glad that we have shared so many great moments on and off the track. I am very excited to see what she will accomplish in the future.
What was your greatest accomplishment?
I think that my greatest accomplishment has been learning how to be confident while racing, especially at bigger competitions. Racing at more elite meets has always been a struggle for me. I tend to psych myself out before I even get on the track. It really took until my 2:09 800m to really feel confident in my abilities. I honestly didn't think I could run that fast but it all just came together in that one moment and I felt so confident throughout the race. I know that having that confidence will really help me strive in college, both on the track and in the classroom.
If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running career in high school?
If I could redo my high school running career, I don't think I would change much. My journey has really shaped me into the racer (as well as the person) I am today and I don't think that I would be where I am without some of the struggles I have had to face. However, there are some races that I wish I could go back and run with more faith in myself.
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
There were quite a few obstacles I had to overcome throughout my high school running career. I switched high schools three times and with that being said, I have had many different coaches, each with their own coaching style. I am a huge people pleaser, so having so many different coaches was somewhat difficult for me, as I am sure it was for the coaches. Having to keep changing my training and racing methods was very frustrating at times.
What will you miss the most?
I seldom travel anywhere around the state where I don't have a few friends I bump into or make plans with. I think that is what I will miss the most. Being able to meet up with friends I've met through running in almost every corner of the State is the best.Even though I will get to share this experience in college, the people I have met through high school will always have a special place in my heart.
What advice you would give to younger athletes?
I would tell the younger generation to not be afraid to stand up for yourself. Be honest with your coaches and teammates. Network with others that have been where you are. It's really comforting to not feel all alone with your struggles. Depending on your goals and development, your training may need to be personalized for your specific strengths or weakness. A good coach will want you to have a great experience while reaching your goals. Also, learn your body. Push yourself to the limits but know whether that nagging ache in your calf is just sore or if it needs more attention. Seek professional trainers quickly if you have pain - you shouldn't have pain!
What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?
Like I said previously, I have had a handful of high school coaches. Each of them have taught me something different about myself. But my journey has been blessed with some unusual, special people that believed in me long before I even believed in myself. My mom and dad had only one goal for me - to be happy and have fun going through high school because it does go by quick. Mom would always remind me that your moments are memories you can't change, so make good choices and learn from the times your choices could have been better. My cousin David Nantkes, helped me tremendously by showing me the right path. He has spent so many countless hours running with me, taking me to meets, and helping me to become more self-confident. My running career would not have ended this way if it wasn't for him stepping in my sophomore year. Desiree, Coach Long, Coach Witham, and the whole MDI track and field coaching staff has been incredible. They were so willing to make sure that I was happy with my training and myself. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to work with such intelligent and genuine people. I cannot thank them enough. There are many other people that I owe a lot of thanks too. I will not name them for fear of leaving someone out, but they know who they are and I want to make sure that they know how grateful I am for helping me along the way. Their pep talks, hugs, high fives, and genuine belief in my ability to go far carried me on those days when I felt doubt or lacked trust.
What are your college plans?
I will be running XC and track and field at Bucknell University next year. I am going in undecided but really looking at majoring in Biology. I would like to take the medical route, but I know a lot of people change their mind, so I am trying to give myself as much flexibility as possible. I am also hoping to continue my love and interest in the performing arts, possibly turning it into a minor or double-major if I am feeling ready to take that on! I am excited to start this new chapter of my life! 'Ray Bucknell!!!
Who would you like to say thank you to?
I want to thank all of my friends, family, coaches, teachers, and even the people whom I may not even know personally, but continued to show their support on and off the track. I am so beyond grateful. Thank you ALL for sharing this magnificent, fun-filled journey with me. With any luck, I will continue to make all of my Maine friends proud.
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