More than just an athlete

Photo courtesy of Jolyta Henderson Jolyta Henderson with her husband and her child, Adrian.
Photo courtesy of Jolyta Henderson Jolyta Henderson with her husband and her child, Adrian.

Photo courtesy of Jolyta Henderson
Jolyta Henderson with her husband and her child, Adrian.

If being a student isn’t hard enough, track athlete Jolyta Henderson juggles  that with being an athlete as well as a mother.

Henderson’s track career began nine years ago, but she has been with Murray State’s team for two years.

Henderson is labeled as a “multi” in track and field, which means she competes in multiple events. She competes in five indoor and seven outdoor events.

Her events include long jump, 100-meter hurdles, shot put, 800-meter, high jump, 200-meter and the javelin throw.

Not only is Henderson an athlete but she also holds many academic honors as well including being on full scholarship at Murray State.

“When I hear people say they are tired I think to myself ‘they have no idea about being tired’,” Henderson said.


After dating her boyfriend for a year the couple found out Henderson was pregnant. Henderson then married her boyfriend on Oct. 14, 2014.

Henderson said all her life she was the “perfect child.” She had good grades and did well at sports. She was scared of disappointing her parents as well as her coaches.

She said when she told her parents about her pregnancy they were upset, but they told her they still loved her and were immediately ready to help.

For a long time, while pregnant, Henderson said she asked herself how she could go on with life after “ruining my life like this and making that stupid mistake”.

With the support of friends and family Henderson was able to overcome those feelings and prepare for her new baby.

The next thought she had was how she would tell her coaches.

Henderson sat down with her coach and told him of her intentions to keep her child and how she would do whatever she had to do. He then made a special workout schedule for Henderson so she could continue to keep in shape.

Henderson couldn’t compete and that was a difficult time for her. She said watching her teammates compete while she sat out was rough.

When the time came for Henderson to stop her workouts, she did as the doctors instructed.

After two days of labor, her son Adrian Henderson was born June 5 and from that point on Henderson said her life was changed.

An interesting fact about Henderson’s labor is that because she was such an active athlete she had a much smoother delivery.

“My advice to people is that when you get pregnant keep working out because it helps,” Henderson said.

Two weeks after Adrian was born, Henderson said she couldn’t wait to get back on the track. She called her doctor and his advice was that she wait a full six weeks to recover.

She waited four weeks and then returned to the track and never stopped.

Once Adrian was born Henderson said the real challenge began. Up until then, Henderson’s life had revolved around school and track and field but then her adult life began. She and her husband had to figure out how to schedule their lives around the life of growing baby boy.


The daily routine begins when Henderson wakes up at 5 a.m. and heads to the library to get in her study hours for her scholarships. She stays there until her first class at 8 a.m.

After classes are done for the day she heads to practice then home to shower, cook, spend time with her son and husband and then start the day again.

“Being a student and an athlete takes time away from my family, so being a part of track affects my ability to be involved in other campus activities such as Greek Life. Time is the enemy,” Henderson said.

“My time with my husband is cut the most, but he understands because I have to put more time with the baby,” Henderson said.

Henderson spends most of her time at the University, while her husband works third shift at Pella Glass.

Henderson’s mom helps with watching Adrian. Her dad stays at home and her mom is here in Murray all week to help babysit.


Henderson’s husband keeps Adrian on the weekends while she is away at track meets.

She said that if her husband ever asked her to give up track she would, but she said he would never make her choose.

With immense help from Henderson’s family and friends they have now got a solid schedule down.

Before Adrian was born Henderson said her and her family had several scheduling options available.

Henderson said that her teammates play a huge role as well.

One of her close teammates Lauren Miller babysits sometimes to help Henderson’s husband.

As Adrian approaches ten months old Henderson says he is doing well and is able to pull up and he is attempting to walk.

From Henderson’s first panic attack to Adrian’s first stumbles across the floor Henderson credits family, friends and faith in being able to juggle motherhood as well as being a student athlete.

Most college students struggle with just a basic course load, but Henderson stays true to her “perfect kid” character by showing how she can juggle it all.

“God continued to open doors for us and we knew we were going to do this,” Henderson said.

Story by Da’Sha Tuck, Staff writer