Female Athlete of the year: Faith Powell

An Interview between Sheila Miller of the Taos News and Faith Powell

By Sheila Miller
Posted 6/27/19

Faith Powell’s future as a track star was initiated by a dog. A Pomeranian named Sugar, to be precise.

The Taos News sat down with Powell to talk about her senior year, her life, the dog …

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Female Athlete of the year: Faith Powell

An Interview between Sheila Miller of the Taos News and Faith Powell


Faith Powell’s future as a track star was initiated by a dog. A Pomeranian named Sugar, to be precise.

The Taos News sat down with Powell to talk about her senior year, her life, the dog Sugar and plans for the future.

This article contains excerpts from that interview that have been lightly edited for length and style.

On Getting to the Track

Faith Powell: My track career started in sixth grade. Before that I was not a fan of running, actually, and I don’t know what brought me to track practice. I kinda just showed up.

Taos News: You went on purpose?

Faith Powell: Yeah! That’s what I said! I was like ‘why am I here again?’

What had really started it all is that I have a little Pomeranian and she had gotten her leg broken. [Even having her leg in a cast couldn’t keep her from running off], so I would have to chase her down up and down the road every day. There’s not a day I don’t remember chasing that dog.

Taos News: What was she thinking?

Faith Powell: Honestly, I have no idea. She just kept running and I just kept chasing her. I just absolutely despised running. It was not something I wanted to do. Going up into middle school I did volleyball and afterwards I just found myself at a track practice.

I found comfort in running and I just stuck with it all through middle school.

I started high jumping in sixth grade. I honestly didn’t know anything about high jumping or jumping or anything of that sort. I kinda just went in there and winged it. And then I grew to love it. Seventh grade year I started practicing with the high school once a week, and I started taking it really serious from there.

[I] participated in junior Olympics, and, in my high jump, since it was middle school, I went undefeated in my seventh-grade year, I was all excited.

Eighth grade year I went full-up to the high school and that’s when I started doing all the different jumps and grew to love all of them—but high jump is definitely my favorite.

Taos News: For people who’ve never done it, can you describe the physical and mental skills required for jumping?

Faith Powell: With jumping there’s a lot of technique. You can’t just go in there and jump off the board and expect to do well. It took me a really long time, training, weight lifting, learning about the jumps, learning the technique, and even still I have so much to learn going into college. I feel like I still haven’t reached my full potential, but there’s definitely a lot to learn and a lot to know about.

On College

 Faith Powell: I think I’d like to major in criminal justice. That field has always really interested me. The idea of helping others and going that route is something I’m interested in.

Taos News: What are your hopes for college?

Faith Powell: Currently, I’m not quite sure. I hope to excel in sports and excel as a person. Track is something that has been there for me and I feel like it’s what has gotten me to where I am right now, along with my community and school and everything and I feel like I just want to continue that and go on and show that I can excel and do well in life.

On Family and Difficulty

Taos News: Earlier you said that you found comfort in running. Can you expand on that?

Faith Powell: Growing up I had a little bit of a difficult home life.

I have just been on my own. I have the support of my coaches and they’ve really helped me grow as an individual and get me where I need to be going through school and athletics.

Both my parents are absent because of other issues but [my coaches] have been there for me and really stepped in to help and guide me. I’ve gone through trying to do my best with their support.

Taos News: How long have you been on your own?

Faith Powell: About a year and a half, since around last year, last track season. Last track season did not go very well. I had a lot on my plate, and mark wise I did alright with the jumps, but with the stress of everything that was happening, I had a little bit of a down year. But this year is definitely a lot better. I feel a lot more secure with everything.

Taos News: Do you have any siblings?

Faith Powell: Two older brothers.

It was just me and my mom for a pretty long time. My brothers already have families; they’re a lot older. I still see them sometimes. They’re just kinda…They’re there.

Last track season I was technically removed from my home. Basically, I just had to pack my stuff, and my coach said he’d found a place for me. He said ‘These people are willing to help you and I feel like you’ll do well here’ and that’s where I decided to stay.

It’s been a very nice family to stay with. It’s not the first time I’ve stayed with a different family, but they’ve definitely been one of the support systems that’s gotten me through everything. They opened their house to me with open arms, and they’ve practically become the family I’ve never had. It’s really nice to have them there and supporting me.

Taos News: When you prepare for a race, what do you think about?

Faith Powell: I mentally prepare myself that I always want to do the best that I can. The thing for me is that I always want to push further and do better. I wouldn’t say I’m satisfied with my goals. I always aspire to do better.

Taos News: Do you have any advice for people who might be in difficult situations?

Faith Powell: Don’t let the tough times bring you down. You can always overcome those obstacles. You can always do better and make your life better for yourself. You can’t go around making excuses because you have difficult situations to go through. You have to persevere through everything and do what’s going to make you happy and what’s going to benefit you in your life when you’re older.

Taos News: How did you discover how to do that?

Faith Powell: That’s just who I am. I don’t like to give up or let anything bring me down. I’ve always been motivated to do better things and persevere through tough times.

Taos News: Where do you think that comes from?

Faith Powell: I’ve been put in an adult position for the majority of my life, and I just took advantage of what I was going through and was like ‘you know what? I’m not going to let that bring me down.’ No matter what I was going through at the time I never wanted to quit.

Taos News: Were you born in Taos?

Faith Powell: I was actually born in Albuquerque. I lived there the first four years of my life. Actually, I was in foster care the first four years of my life. Then I had moved to Taos with my mom because she had found me and brought me back here. I’ve been here ever since.

Taos News: Does your mom still live in Taos?

Faith Powell: Yes, she does. She struggles with mental illness and addiction. She’d kinda in her own world.

Taos News: Do you interact with her?

Faith Powell: I do not. Our interactions do not go very well, so I just set healthy boundaries with her. I hope she’s doing better and that she is going to get better, but that’s just decisions that she’s making and there’s not much I can really do about it. It’s really hard, but I try to stay positive about the whole situation and not let it get to me, which is hard because she’s my mom and I love her and everything, but that’s just decisions that she’s making and there’s nothing I can really do about it.

On Gratitude

Taos News: Is there anything else you’d like me to know?

Faith Powell: I’d like to say something about my coaches. They’ve become like my family, really, and they’re such hardworking and caring people. I’ve never met anyone as hardworking and caring as them. To be honest, I don’t know what I would do without them and I care about them very much. I just want them to know that.

Taos News: When did you realize you could really rely on them?

Faith Powell: When I first moved up here, my coach, Ernie—I just immediately had a bond with him and he saw what I was going through at home. He’s probably one of the figures that I can say has helped me the most. I’ve always known that he’ll be there for me, along with coach Mitchell as well, and for that I am beyond grateful – not only to them but to my other coaches as well.

Editor’s note: After this interview took place, Faith Powell accepted a full scholarship to Grand Canyon University. In 2019 Powell won her fifth consecutive state championship in high jump and was, for the second year in a row, the Female High Point Athlete at the state track meet. At the 2019 Class 4A state track meet, she won the championship in high jump, long jump and triple jump and placed second in each the 200-meter and 400-meter dash. During the 2018 volleyball season, she had 325 kills and was the stand-out district leader.


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