Running with Confidence: Track and field Bobcats overcome challenges, changes

Women's track team athletes
Devina Schneider (left) and DeAijah Hicks-Boyce are medal-winning members of the women's track team.

Running with Confidence

by Edmond Ortiz

Track and field Bobcats overcome challenges, changes

Devina Schneider and DeAijha Hicks-Boyce walked — or ran, really — different paths in life before joining the Texas State women’s track and field team.

Schneider, a redshirt sophomore, took up running in second grade and loved every minute of it. The Bellaire, Texas, native was named the Most Valuable Player at Episcopal High School. When it was time to look at colleges, Schneider quickly embraced the culture of Texas State athletics. "I liked the whole girls’ team dynamic, how they interacted with each other, and how close they were to each other," she says. 

Hicks-Boyce lettered in running all four years at Waco La Vega High School, and was an NCAA Division II All-American during her two years at Tarleton State University. After transferring, Hicks- Boyce had to adjust to life in San Marcos, at Texas State, and as a member of a track and field program that is winning championships.

Women’s track and field capped Coach Jody Stewart’s second year as program director by winning both the Sun Belt Conference (SBC) Indoor Track and Field Championships and the SBC Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

"Last year was a transition. I was coming to a new school, I was under a new coach," Hicks-Boyce says. "But in Coach Stewart’s words, I had to trust the process. I think overall I performed pretty well."

DeAijha Hicks-Boyce

 "Pretty well" may be an understatement describing performances  by such team members as Schneider and Hicks-Boyce in their  2017 season. Schneider, who redshirted as a freshman, was named  Freshman and Newcomer of the Year. She set a women’s program  record in the 1,500-meter run with a time of 4:26.59 at the Bryan  Clay Invitational in California. She won a gold medal in the mile run at the SBC Indoor Championships and a gold medal at the SBC Outdoor Championships in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Schneider credited an optimistic outlook for her success last season. "My freshman year was a little tough because I was injured so I wasn’t able to compete as much as I would’ve liked," she says. "With all the coaching changes, it was hectic, but I kind of surprised myself with how I recovered so quickly."

Hicks-Boyce was part of the gold medal-winning 4X400-meter relay team at the SBC Indoor Championships. She also collected bronze in the 4X400-meter relay at the SBC Outdoor Championships. Like Schneider, Hicks-Boyce went into last season with a more confident point of view of her abilities. "I’m trying to improve my mindset. I’m trying to stay positive and achieve the goals I set for myself," she says.

Schneider and Hicks-Boyce are among hundreds of thousands of student-athletes balancing academic and athletic demands. It’s a particularly daunting challenge for Schneider, who also runs cross country in the fall. "It took me awhile to get used to it, honestly," Schneider says. "The Athletic Academic Center that we have has been helpful with study hall hours."

Devina Schneider crouching on track
Devina Schneider

Schneider says that once a student-athlete lays out his or her objectives, it’s vital to stay consistent with the plan: "It’s a long-term investment; you have  to stick with it from the beginning."

Hicks-Boyce reminds herself that every day brings her closer to completing her goals. "When I wake up every morning, I thank God for a new day and I try to make the best out of every day and take things one day at a time," she says.

When Hicks-Boyce prepares for a competition, that familiar mantra in Bobcat athletics — "trust the process" — comes into play. "I have to stay positive. If you let the mind wander, you tend to overthink what you want to do," she says. "If you go into the race knowing you’ve prepared yourself for the race, you’re going to be fine."

Stewart is excited to see what the rest of the women’s track team could accomplish this year. He has been accumulating SBC Coach of the Year awards since taking over Texas State track and field.

In May, Texas State is hosting the SBC Outdoor Track and Field Championships. "In 2017, we left a lot of points on the track, but when I look at things in perspective, we found a way to persevere," Stewart says of the 2017 track season.

"We had a few young ladies who early on had some injuries. I think the one thing we talked about was finding a way to overcome those challenges and they did that."