Melbourne resident has sights set on the future
By Brittany Llorente
COCOA BEACH - An avid softball player, Shelby Davidson, 18, of Melbourne, was in her sophomore year of high school when she decided to trade in her cleats and pants for sneakers and shorts.
With her new found love of track and cross country, Shelby hit the ground running.
A 2012 graduate of Cocoa Beach High School, Shelby was named to the Florida High School Athletic Association All-State team, which is comprised of 24 athletes from throughout the state, based on academic and athletic achievement.
With the recognition, Shelby was awarded a $1,000 scholarship, on top of a running scholarship from the University of Florida, in Gainesville, and the Florida Bright Future Scholarship. She has a full ride at the University of Florida, where she hopes to study interior design.
But for Shelby, running didn't start overnight.
"I actually hated running because I was having to run around the bases in softball, and I was slow at sprinting, and everyone made fun of me," she said. "Everyone would say 'How did you get so fast?' when they would see me run the distance. It's cool watching my progression into the top ranks in the county. I didn't just make this crazy jump to the top in one day."
In addition to the 55 to 60 miles a week that she ran during the off-season and 45 to 50 miles she ran a week during the track and cross country season, Shelby found time to volunteer to qualify for the Bright Futures scholarship. She sewed dresses for girls in Africa and was involved with the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, student government, the her school's turtle awareness club and other activities.
Her senior year was busy, but also the pinnacle of her high school running career.
During the state competition, Shelby ran in three separate events. The final event was a two-mile race where she took first place.
"It was the best feeling in the world," she said. "It was my last high school race, and it was a pretty solid race. There was a runner behind me the whole time, and with 100 meters to go, I just took off. I had a lot of adrenaline."
Graduation and the end of the season did not slow Shelby down.
"I average about 65 to 70 miles a week now that I am running on the college training plan," she said. "I run every day and get one day off every two weeks. I double run three days a week. Eight miles is a short day for me."
Soon she will be surrounded by runners from all over the country on her team at the University of Florida.
"I know I'll be a tiny fish in a big sea," she said. "I am enjoying it while I can, here. I love that people know me as Shelby Davidson, the runner from the paper."
Her dream is to make the United States Olympic Team in 2016 but for now, Shelby is taking things one step at a time.
"It's interesting for me to see my progress and how I was a little girl, who liked cross country and track, to a woman going into the big leagues," she said.