In the 32-year history of the D.C. Gatorade player of the year awards, no winner had ever come from School Without Walls’ athletics program.
That came to an end on June 22 when Walls sprinter Ingrid Joseph was named 2017’s girls track and field athlete of the year.
“I’m just very happy because people think Walls isn’t very good at sports, or a sports school,” Joseph said. “It’s great to help my school have a good name.”
The rising Walls senior joins a prestigious list of recent winners including National Cathedral’s Page Lester in 2016, Cathedral’s Jeryne Fish in 2015 and Wilson’s Deonna Diggs in 2014.
Joseph had a stellar junior season and raced to gold at the D.C. State Athletic Association’s 100- and 200-meter races with blistering times of 12.26 seconds and 24.95, respectively. The latter was a personal record for the sprinter.
“I PRed my 200, and I had a very strong race from start to finish,” Joseph said. “My start was really good. My coaches worked on my start consistency, and it really showed in the state championship. There was also one other girl at the top with me from McKinley. I just focused on the time I wanted to get. I focused on that rather than trying to beat somebody else.”
Joseph also broke the tape in both the 100- and 200-meter championship races in the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association.
“Her desire to want to get better is one of her biggest strengths,” said Walls coach Mike Gaske. “She is constantly searching for ways to get better. An awful lot of track and field is about who wants to more — who is going to push harder and train harder. She has that in spades.”
Joseph credits her support system for helping her achieve her goals.
“I’m just really happy about the season and the coaches who pushed me and helped me,” she said. “I had a really good season, and all the support I got from my family was big.”
The Gatorade honor was Joseph’s biggest accolade so far, and Gaske believes it’s just the start of what Joseph can do.
“She is just getting recognized for it now,” the coach said. “She has been a very good athlete. She really kicked it up a notch this year. The range of times that she is hitting now really puts her in with elite company, and people are starting to take notice of her. She had the ability all along; it just takes time to develop.”
The Gatorade award also takes into account academic performance and volunteering — two areas the rising senior also excelled in.
In addition to maintaining a 3.37 GPA, Joseph has been very active in the community. The speedster has volunteered locally to benefit youth track and field programs, participated at Martha’s Table and served as a mentor to students at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School.
“At [E.L. Haynes] I help aid the children and prepare them for the high school experience,” she said. “At Martha’s, we work on building our self-worth and we do projects to show the community how to do that. I also help feed the homeless.”
As Joseph enters her senior year, Gaske believes she can leave a lasting legacy at the Foggy Bottom school.
“For her there is no ceiling,” he said. “She can be as good as she wants to be. Something that works in her favor is she realizes that. An awful lot of succession sprinting comes down to who was born with the fast-twitch muscles. She has all of the tools, but it’s her work ethic and desire that will really push her to the next level.”
Looking ahead to when her time at Walls is over, Joseph hopes to continue to run at the college level — hopefully in a Division I program.
“I have gotten many calls and letters from coaches so far,” she said. “I’m just preparing myself and getting ready. I really want to go to a DI school, but I’m also interested in DII. Anywhere that would offer me a good deal is where I will go.”