Born To Stand Out

There’s fast. There’s quick. Then there is Dixie Flyer junior, Starlee Woodbury. If you have not witnessed this young lady get off the blocks and explode then you must have blinked. This girl has some serious power and speed behind her. Dixie as a backdrop couldn’t be more fitting. This girl can fly.

Dixie High Class of 2017 Track & Soccer 3.7GPA

When you first meet Starlee you cannot help but love her personality. To say she is a ball of energy would be an understatement. How the Lady Flyer contains that energy is simple. She focuses that energy. She knows exactly what she wants and deliberately channels that energy to achieve one of her main goals, “I want to be known for being a good person, not just for being really fast.”

With all the training Starlee puts in, she knows that every bit of it is drawing her closer to those moments on the podium she is looking forward to most. “My biggest focus this year will be state for sure.” Breaking records in any sport is exciting and Starlee has her eyes set on breaking the state records as well. “The state hurdle record is around 13sec and I am around 14.87sec so I have some serious work to do. It is going to be very difficult but it is definitely a goal before I graduate high school.”

Competing in the hurdle event is something new for Starlee. She recalls, “Last year I didn’t even know how to hurdle, they just said I should try it and I thought, ok.” What makes that particular event exciting is that despite the Lady Flyer’s inexperience, her sheer power and speed took her to state where she would place an incredibly impressive second. “After I took second I thought, oh, that’s nice. I think I need to keep hurdling. Now I am all about hurdles. That is my race.”

Taking personal responsibility for her own outcomes is a trait that is so much a part of who Starlee is. While she thoroughly enjoys the team aspect of competition while playing soccer and the relay events in track, it is the individual competition that pushes the junior to compete harder every time she suits up. “I know I have to work hard and when I compete it’s on me. If I mess up or don’t do well no one else can take the blame for it. It keeps me in the mindset of always striving to be better.”

When asked what it is about track that she loves so much Starlee offers a bit of insight into the mind of a track athlete that many may not have considered. “If you’ve never run track you may not really understand it. I mean you work so hard and train so many hours every day. You condition yourself so much to sprint around the track for a very short amount of time. Training all year for a race that will last seconds. But once you are done, and you cross that finish line, it is so worth it. Win or lose, if you are faster than your previous time it’s worth all of the hard work. It is so much fun. You also get to meet a lot of new people at the meets and that is a lot of fun too.”

“You are excited and nervous at the same time.” Sharing what goes on in her mind as she prepares mentally for each race. “You can hear everyone around you but you clear out the noise and focus only on that gunshot and finish line. Once you get down into the block and you hear the announcer say, ‘Runners on your mark, get set,’ thats when the nerves go crazy. But if you have trained hard and are mentally ready, when that gun goes off, it’s your race.”

In track, unlike most sports, athletes competing against each other side-by-side creates a whole new level of intensity. When you can hear the footsteps and pace of the person beside you, and see them at your right and at your left, you have no choice but to fight even harder if you expect to win. “You have to decide that you are going to be the first one to that finish line. For me, that is all I am thinking once I start running, finish line, finish line. It can be scary sometimes,” shares Woodbury, “but when you are done and you look up at that board and you see that you’ve gotten a faster time, or even better, that you‘ve broken a record, that’s awesome.”

“Win or lose, if you are faster than your previous time it’s worth all of the hard work… I want to be known for being a good person, not just for being really fast.“

Starlee does a great job at staying motivated. She pulls quotes from so many who inspire her and has created a library of sorts designed to inspire. One such quote that she has drawn inspiration from comes from runner Mike Fanelli, who has logged over 100,000 miles since he began his running career as a teen. Mike once stated, “I tell our runners to divide the race into thirds. Run the first part with your head, the middle part with your personality, and the last part with your heart.”

The importance of building friendships is not lost in competition for Starlee. Feeling fortunate to live in an area with such strong competition, Woodbury looks to fellow competitors as examples on and off the track. “I love that I have been able to run against great friends. Olivia Leavitt and Abby Taylor [from Desert Hills] are so great and competing against them has made me better. They are both incredible people too. I am excited to see what they do in college.”

“I am so proud of her,” states Colleen Woodbury, Starlee’s mom, “she has such a big heart. She is so very kind, that is probably the nicest part about her. She’s the kind of person that is good on the inside and good on the outside. You are lucky as a parent when you have a child like that.”

As for Starlee’s own feelings about her role in life beyond sports, Starlee sees within herself a responsibility to reach out to others, “to lift people up and not tear them down.” She was voted by her peers as a member of Dixie’s Hope Squad, to work with adults in assisting students who may be struggling with or displaying signs of suicide. Starlee feels it important to look out for her fellow classmates, to offer a lending ear, and genuinely befriend those around her. “I see how some people feel like they have to be mean or hurtful to other people just to fit in, or they try to be funny by picking on other people. That is not right. For me, I think I was born to stand out. I would rather stand out by being a good person. I like to be the type of person that makes other people smile.”

Awarded as the Most Outstanding Female Track & Field Athlete in 2015 for Dixie High School and setting a new school record in the 100m hurdles the same year, Starlee is something special, on and off the track. Just remember, once she gets into the blocks don’t blink. You might just miss her fly by. • HSSI