NORMAN — The car is red. It’s a convertible mini Cooper, the kind of car almost any 16-year-old girl would hope to drive.
The girl is Haley Woodard. She’s a sophomore at Norman North and a favorite to win several gold medals at this weekend’s state track meet in Yukon.
The car is Woodard’s. But it may not have been if not for a fateful conversation she had with her father, Kevin Woodard, a year ago.
“My dad told me if I didn’t run track he wouldn’t get me the car,” Haley said. “I was complaining, saying I was too tired to go to track. He told me it was a waste of God-given talent if I didn’t go out and run.”
So she did. In fact, she ran faster than everyone else, taking down defending state champion Tyler Wisby to win gold in the 400 meters in last year’s state meet. She did it despite not fully joining coach Mike Ramsey’s track program until the Timberwolves soccer season ended, just in time for the regional meet that sent her to state.
It was one of the best individual performances in North’s 16-year history, and it was the one that convinced Woodard’s father and coach that she had a blindingly bright future on the track.
“She’s something special, that’s the only way to describe her,” said Ramsey, who has seen a number of college-bound athletes come through his program the last 15 years. “When you have an athlete that’s never lost an individual event, you can’t get much better than that. She’s the best female to ever run here.”
But success on the track wasn’t the end of the story for Woodard. Along with the medals, accolades and the talk of being the best in school history — which continue to make her uncomfortable — came some tough decisions.