Mountain Pointe graduate Travonn White has found his stride with the Central Arizona College track team.
White was a standout on the Mountain Pointe team for the long jump, but couldn’t compete his senior year for several reasons on and off the field.
He ended up at Central Arizona despite having major Division I talent, but instead of letting it bring him down, White continued to work.
It paid off with the NJCAA title in the long jump with a jump of 25 feet and 6.25 inches at Mesa Community College on May 17.
“Every victory means a lot,” White said. “I have a lot more to do before I get where I want to be and it showed me anything is possible.”
White had a leg injury that slowed him at the start, but he got back in to competing shape for his freshman year at Central Arizona.
“Athletically he’s doing well, his leg has healed and is working well,” said Tony Dougherty, the head track coach for Central Arizona. “But he hasn’t hit the monster jumps yet.”
Dougherty was very impressed with the winning performance and knows that White will only continue building upon his early success.
“He almost went 26 feet this year and there’s no reason he can’t do that or further. There’s no question that he has the ability to be one of the finest long jumpers in the country,” Dougherty said.
The head coach said it’s all in his approach to the sport, that he is eager to learn and improve each time he takes a jump. Dougherty said it’s a tribute to the person he’s becoming as well.
“Over the year I’ve seen him mature and become a leader, not necessarily a verbal leader, but he leads by doing: being first in line and working hard,” the coach said.
White was also a student of Dougherty’s. The two developed a relationship that allowed Dougherty to see the kind of young man that was going to be on his team.
“He can be very talkative but that’s usually only with his teammates when they’re kidding around. He’s completely on board and a good teammate,” Dougherty said.
In addition to the long jump, White has started running sprints and the relay as well. His coach said the up-and-coming star is making developments there as well.
But White’s biggest growth, Dougherty said, is in his development as a person, growing to be a mature young man.
“This next year is going to go by too fast,” Dougherty said. “He’s only got one more year left here at Central [Arizona], and I couldn’t ask for a better kid.”
Dougherty said there was no doubt that Division I colleges would be looking at him once his time with the junior college came to an end.
“He is a good example of a local talent making good on opportunities locally to be big time. We will some day look back and say ‘This guy came from right here,’” Dougherty said.
The coach and teacher said White comes from a good family, and he’s even asked White’s mom if there are any more kids to send them his way.
As White continues to improve and dazzle, approaching the 26-foot jump, Dougherty can only be optimistic for next season.
“He just wants to improve, and will do anything to improve, so I’m looking forward to another year of that happening,” Dougherty said.
White said the thing he learned most in his first year of college athletics is how important it is take make sure you are doing everything you can to improve.
“I’m going to keep improving and start really hitting the weight room,” said White, who admitted to relying too much on his athletic ability. “I have to start taking care of my body to get the most of it.”
And it should lead to bigger and better things.
“I’ll be at Central next year,” he said. “I want to take things slow, do it right and find a spot that is going to help me the most.”
• Will Argeros is a junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He is interning this semester for the AFN. Staff writer Jason P. Skoda contributed to this article.