The word “clear” repeats in Jerayah Davis’ mind as she places her feet onto the starting blocks prior to each race.
To clear her thoughts and calm her nerves, the Kelly Walsh (Casper, Wyo.) senior track standout visualizes the word before the gun sounds and she explodes from the blocks in her neon NikeFlyknit spikes.
Watch Davis sprint the straightaway, puffy bun flopping atop her head, KT Tape adorning the side of each thigh, and notice her unshakable expression. She wears it like a state champion would — with confidence.
Davis recalled being awestruck when she watched Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix compete on TV. She realized she wanted to chase her own Olympic glory, and Davis has been influencing many who cross her path as she works toward achieving it.
For her unrelenting work ethic and support toward her peers and community, Davis is being recognized by USA TODAY High School Sports and the Army National Guard with the Inspiration Award, presented to 15 student-athletes across the nation who go above and beyond.
“I wanted to be just like Allyson,” Davis said of her idol. “She’s very humble, not involved with herself and wants to help others.”
Ask one of Davis’ teammates, her coach or a peer, and they’ll say she exudes the same characteristics.
“She’s very modest about her talents,” Kelly Walsh track coach Mark Hileman said. “It’s always been her personality. I think that says a lot about her.”
Though Davis doesn’t flaunt her successes, those around her are familiar. Last season, Davis won individual state titles in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes as she led Kelly Walsh to second place overall. Davis signed a letter of intent to run track for the University of Southern California.
“Everyone wants to follow her,” said senior Day Timberman, who competes in the long jump and triple jump. “I like how competitive she is. A lot of people on the team try to push themselves against Jerayahso they can do better.”
Timberman isn’t the only one who admires Davis’ diligence. Hileman added that Davis positively sways youth athletes when she assists during summer camps for the Casper Quick youth track club. She teaches drills and works out alongside the young athletes.
“I do everything that they’re doing. If I don’t work hard, then they won’t,” Davis said. “I believe I have these talents for a reason — so I can help other people.”
Davis said her mother, Jodi, has always encouraged her to give back, and she finds satisfaction doing so off the track as much as she does on it.
“She wants to give back,” Hileman said. “It comes natural to her.”
Naturally, Davis befriends many who cross her path. While she was recovering from an injury during her sophomore year, she often rode a stationary bike during her conditioning class, where she met a special needs student who rode alongside her. The two became friends, and last year Davis would often spend her free class period visiting the student’s gym class.
“She’s a good mentor,” Hileman said. “It’s always been her personality.”
The elder Davis said she is proud of her daughter’s influence among her peers, school and community.
“She keeps a really positive attitude. When she interacts with younger kids or her peers, you will see her smiling and encouraging them,” Jodi said. “She wants everyone to succeed. That’s what makes her a very positive role model.”