Each year, Sports Illustrated Magazine gives out its annual SportsKids of the Year Award to special children who accomplish amazing feats in the competitive world of youth athletics activities.
The 2016 award-winning candidate is an adorable trio of sisters named Tai, Rainn and Brooke Sheppard (pictured). The Sheppard sisters are aspiring junior Olympians who participate in youth track and field. Essence Magazine recently caught up with the girls and their mother for an exclusive interview.
In their interview with Essence, Tonia Handy and her three daughters spoke about this amazing accomplishment, as well as the string of adversities that were experienced prior to the Sheppard sisters winning the 2016 SportsKids of the Year Award.
The three girls started participating in track and field in January of 2015 when their babysitter helped them get involved in a track meet around that time. Later in 2015, the three girls were staying in a homeless shelter after their family started going through some difficult financial times.
However, the positive role models that were in in their lives at that time never gave up on the three girls.
“My coach really inspired me to try hard and to really put everything into it,” 9-year-old Brooke (the youngest sister) said in her interview with Essence Magazine. “Also, my babysitter Sharon Davis, who introduced us to track and field and really helped us work as hard as we could to get us where we are now,” she continued.
Rainn (the middle sister) also spoke to Essence about how winning the Sports Illustrated award made her feel.
“This is the type of place that hard work can take you!” Rainn said. “My main goal is just to keep trying harder so I can do my best in the Junior Olympics because, if you think about it, all of my training is for that,” she added.
Tai (the oldest sister) told Essence what her favorite part of this amazing opportunity was as a young track and field athlete.
“The most exciting part is going to Junior Olympic nationals and congratulating my sisters and supporting them,” Tai said. “Also, winning awards myself and then getting to relax after working so hard,” she continued.
Handy told Essence that she has always supported her daughters and encouraged them to dream big.
“[I always tell my daughters] just never give up and have fun in what you you do. Be who you wanna be. I’ve always taught them to never settle and to do the best you can at anything and I they really took that to heart,” Handy told Essence.