By Leona Dunn
We have all heard of Wilma Rudolph and have collectively praised Coach Ed Temple. Not to mention the Tigerbelles, Tennessee State University’s Women’s Track team, are consistent Ohio Valley Conference Champions, but lately, there has been one track star in particular who has been catching people’s attention. Amber Hughes.
“I was mainly a hurdle girl because that was the first event I ever did. Now that I see my potential in sprints, hurdles, and jumps, I enjoy them all,” Hughes said.
An Atlanta native, Hughes stands at 5’9 and came to the track hot and ready to win. Although she hasn’t had the longest track career, only beginning towards the end of her junior year in high school, she won a state title and state championship her senior year and has been winning events ever since.
“My first full season was my senior year of high school. Although I began much later than others, I fell in love with it quickly. My first high school coach, Mr. Portis, inspired me. I give him so much credit for the start of my success and for pushing me to start track and field,” says Hughes.
Qualifying for the 2016 Olympic trials was a goal Amber finally reached last year. Due to a recovering injury, Hughes was only able to jump once, but once was all she needed.
“I dealt with a foot injury after the indoor nationals, so I was only able to jump one time before the outdoor conference. The one time that I got to jump was the jump that qualified me for Olympic trials, this meant so much to me coming off of an injury,” Hughes said.
Hughes does weight training every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning if she doesn’t have a track meet, on top of practicing daily at 3 pm. Still, there’s more to this women than just power and speed. She is an active member of My Sisters Keeper, which is a Christian-based social group, President of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and a proud sister of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority incorporated. She studies Mass Communications with the intention of becoming a Meteorologist.
“My career path leads to meteorology. I thought Mass communications would fit well into this field because I get the experience with cameras and editing. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since the third grade,” she shares.
Supported by her parents who have always been there for her, last year Amber’s foot wasn’t the only challenge she had to overcome. “I recently lost my father in October and he was my biggest fan. I’ve had to deal with this and its hard but knowing he wanted the best for me is just motivation to keep pushing harder,” Hughes said, “No matter the situation, never let it define you as a person. I say this because I’ve been through so much, but you would never know it because my success is the most important thing to me and I cant let hardships stop me from going after what I want.”
This star athlete tries to remain a positive example for others because she knows people look up to her. She encourages others to live their dreams because she realizes that she is a part of something bigger than herself and wants to see everyone succeed. Amber Hughes is a name we should be paying attention to. This graduating senior has had a record breaking year and isn’t planning on slowing down anytime soon.