Track athlete sets, achieves lofty goals

Vaughan_03Attending six schools in 12 years might be enough to throw any teen off his game. For Connor Vaughan, it just made him more determined.

By the end of his sophomore year at Paxon School for Advanced Studies where he played soccer, it became obvious that Vaughan was more interested in focusing his self-discipline and motivation on his athletic talent than on his academic endeavors.

Then Vaughan’s mother Connie thought the smaller class sizes and excellent academic experience at The Episcopal School of Jacksonville would encourage him to focus on his studies, but by the end of his junior year there Vaughan had set his sights on something else – and it certainly wasn’t the foreign language requirement in order to graduate.

Vaughan wanted to be one of the top high school runners in the state of Florida.

He ran on the cross-country team at Episcopal, when a fifth place showing at a regional track meet hit him hard. “He needed to make some significant changes if he hoped to become a state champion,” said Connie. “That defeat was really a pivotal point for Connor.”

According to Connie, at the start of her son’s senior year in the Academy of Finance magnet program at Wolfson High School “he set for himself the lofty goals of becoming a Division 1 college athlete and receiving a track and cross-country scholarship to a top-tier university.”

With at least 10 medals – mostly gold – this year alone, Vaughan, a Granada resident, has been tearing up the track at conference, regional and state meets.

The payoff

To train for his dream Vaughan ran between 45 and 60 miles per week during his senior year. “My Wolfson coach (Coach Mark Farrar) gave me workouts twice a week but I would run on my own the other five days,” Vaughan explained.

All those miles paid off.

Vaughan won gold medals in both the one-mile and two-mile race at the Florida High School Athletic Association State Track Meet on May 1. He realized his goal with scholarships from the University of South Florida, Florida State University and the University of Florida, and he was also accepted at four other colleges.

“The fact that he established himself as a premier runner pretty much on his own during his senior year was really quite a remarkable feat and also something that the college coaches found to be very attractive about Connor,” said his mother.

And there was more to come.Vaughan_01

“Connor was recently notified that he was chosen as the Times-Union High School Track Athlete of the Year this year,” said his mother. “Needless to say, it’s been a very exciting year for Connor!”

Connie said that her son is, by far, the most self-disciplined and motivated child she has ever known.

“Connor knew exactly what he hoped to achieve with his running, and I completely trusted that he could figure out how to achieve his goal,” she said. “I let go of the process and took on a much more supportive role, allowing Connor to lead himself to victory. Having the opportunity to be there with him to celebrate his success each step of the way was the greatest reward for me!”

Vaughan accepted the University of Florida’s offer to be a cross-country and track athlete and to major in business. A critical part of his application process was the help of neighbor Julie Drew, who assisted Connor through each step. “We couldn’t have done it without her,” said Connie, who noted that “Team Connor” also included Wolfson classmate and cross-country runner Mark Edward, who provided a lot of emotional support and will also attend UF this fall.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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