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Sophomore proves to herself and others: ‘I can do anything’

Student leader: Autumn Johnson 

Godfrey-Lee — Sophomore Autumn Johnson prioritizes practice, planning and prayer. 

She currently holds three Lee Middle and High School track and field records for the 60-, 100- and 200-meter dash, recently beating the previous record holder for the 100 — herself. 

“Running came naturally to me,” she said. “I always wanted to race everyone in elementary school, and I always won. I would race the boys and I would always win.”

Autumn said she walks around the track and prays to prepare her mind and body before her track meets. 

“I like to walk around the track once and feel it out,” she said. “I imagine all my races and how it’s going to feel.” 

In middle school, Autumn played basketball and surprised herself with her own abilities after joining the track team.  

“I ran the 70-meter and 200-meter and my coach told me I was fast, even though I thought I was running slow,” she said. “Sometimes, I don’t even know how I run the 400-meter warmup lap, but that year at conferences I ran the 400-meter, and I won.” 

During her freshman year, Autumn broke the school’s record for the 100-meter dash. “I keep on breaking ‘em,” she said, “and every personal record is a new record.” 

When she runs a race, Autumn said her team motivates her to win. 

“I’ll be nervous, but I like the feeling at the end … It helps me believe in myself,” she said. “It proves to me that I can do this; I can do anything.”

Keeping On Her Toes 

A dedicated runner at Lee and for a local track team, Autumn also dedicated time and effort in school to earn a 3.9 GPA this year. 

“I did my work and I tried to make sure to focus,” she said. “If I know something is due, I make the time and turn things in on time.” 

When she thought she was falling behind, Autumn said, she reached out to her teachers and worked out a plan.

“I don’t bring a sport as my excuse, and I always apologize if I’m slippin’,” she said. 

André Sargent, Godfrey-Lee’s athletic director, said Autumn excels on the track and in the classroom, and is a role model for her peers. 

“Autumn’s achievements academically, socially and athletically are commendable,” he said. “We are proud to have her as part of our community and athletic program.”

Her biggest role models: “My mom inspires me and she’s always there for me,” she said. “I don’t want to disappoint her at all, (because) she hasn’t disappointed me at all.” 

She also thanked head track coach Sekayi Bracey for helping her get to the state meet on June 1 as the only female track and field athlete from Lee High School to qualify.  

“Watching Autumn train and compete has been an inspiration to all of us,” Bracey said. “Her dedication, hard work and passion for the sport are evident in every practice and race. Autumn embodies the spirit of perseverance and excellence that we strive to instill in all our athletes.” 

Going into her junior year this fall, Autumn said she plans to continue running and getting good grades to eventually attend Michigan State University and compete on their track team. 

“(My) accomplishments are a reflection of the encouragement and support that I receive from my coaches, teammates, family and the Godfrey-Lee community,” she said. “I am grateful for everyone who has been a part of this journey and I am looking forward to achieving even more.” 

Read more from Godfrey Lee: 
‘You can do anything and everything’
Gates scholarship semi-finalist credits parents as inspiration

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”


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