Demya Bryan began attending classes in the Cartersville City Schools system in ninth grade. At that point, like many freshmen, she yearned to find an identity.
Bryan, who will graduate from Cartersville High tonight, wanted to be an athlete, and she found her true passion, running sprints for the Canes tracks dnd field team.
“I definitely think track would be the highlight of my high school [experience], because I moved here the summer before freshman year,” Bryan said. “I was still new and trying to see what sport was for me. I learned to really like track. I think it helped me get through school and get me where I am right now.”
That place is just months away from becoming a collegiate athlete after recently deciding to join the Piedmont College track program.
“When I went for a visit, I really enjoyed it,” Bryan said. “It felt like home. I also did an overnight visit, so I got to stay with a teammate, visit some of the campus life and eat in the cafeteria. It was a really fun experience.
“With a lot of support from my family and my friends, we were able to decide what we thought would be best for me.”
When it comes time to join the Lions, Bryan believes the transition should be a smooth one. After experiencing all that high school had to offer, she seemed excited to focus more on track and her studies.
“I got this connected feel,” Bryan said of the Piedmont track program. “Of course, in high school, we’re all one big team. But in college I think it’s even closer, because most of the athletes room together, eat together and do all the activities together. It just feels really connected there.”
During Bryan’s signing ceremony inside the CHS media center in late April, Cartersville track and field coach Emerson Bridges stood off to the side between a row of book shelves. As Bryan posed for picture after picture, Bridges couldn’t help but beam with pride.
“I’ve known this kid ever since she came here,” he said. “I had the pleasure of coaching her in basketball, finding out what kind of kid she was and getting a chance to know her mother, her dad and her step-dad. …
“A coach’s job, to me, is we want to make sure our kids have support. A lot of kids, the only support they have is us. But to see support from home is tremendous, and I can’t emphasize enough how important that is in a kid’s growth.”
Bridges can’t wait to see how Bryan continues to develop and improve at the next level — not only on the track but also in the classroom.
“To see that she’s going to get the opportunity to go on and further her education by doing something she loves to do, running track at Piedmont College, it’s important and it’s real big,” Bridges said. “I can’t wait to see the growth that comes. … If she grows as much these next four years as she has these previous four years, there’s no telling what we’ll see.
“I’m not talking about athletically; I’m talking about what we’ll see in the world. What is she going to do? I don’t even know what she wants to study, but I do know, whatever it is, she will be the best at it.”
According to Bryan, her career plans are to study criminal justice with hopes of eventually going to law school. If she winds up being a defense attorney, Bridges would probably be the least surprised person to learn of that development.
“I’ve never heard her say anything negative about a kid,” he said. “Never. I’m shocked. Kids state their opinions, and they have them. But I’ve never heard that child mutter one negative word.”
Unsurprisingly, Bryan had nothing but positive things to say following her ceremony. Having reached this point just a few years after first coming to Cartersville, she was thrilled to be getting the opportunity to achieve one of her biggest goals.
“It’s a special moment for me; it’s a special moment for my family,” Bryan said. “It’s something important, because we always talk about college being at the top of the goal list. To get a scholarship is a blessing, so it was exciting.”