Integral to understanding Lauren Green’s dedication and drive is a large white board reading “55.31” in a bold font.
The number represents the state record for the New Mexico women’s track and field 400 meter dash. It signified another challenge for Green to conquer. Heading into her senior year at Volcano Vista High School in Albuquerque, N.M., Green wrote the number of seconds down and sent it to sprints coach Del Jenkins, determined to etch her name in the record books.
Beating this mark included months worth of vigorous rehab after Green suffered a torn ACL her sophomore year. She later transferred to Volcano Vista and couldn’t run for the entire year.
As the sprints coach and owner of ARDOR Elite Training Academy— a sports performance program dedicated to improving an athlete’s skillset— Jenkins has seen his clients suffer injuries that strip away their motivation and recovery. When Green reached out to him for help, several obstacles laid ahead for her to come back to full strength.
“There’s a physical and mental barrier to overcome with an injury like that,” Jenkins said. “An athlete doesn’t trust their body and they can’t do the things they normally do… Lauren was a different breed, this only made her stronger.”
Tearing an ACL can signify the end for an athlete without a fearless determination to bounce back, but those four digits gave Green all the motivation she needed to make her stronger.
“I will never forget the photo she took of that state record—almost like she willed herself to get there,” Jenkins said.
Green worked tirelessly at Jenkins’ training academy, focusing on weightlifting and agility drills to improve and recover. The months of hard work paid off when the season had arrived. She won her district 100 meter dash with a time of 12.42 seconds.
Green’s ultimate goal of beating the state record for the 400 meter dash fell just two hundredths a second short at 55.51, but she set a new school record that still stands today and earned first place at the state meet.
Her injury developed a diligent work ethic and a mindset to never settle for anything less than her best.
“It’s still an amazing feeling,” she said. “I wouldn’t have been able to reach the times I have now if it weren’t for that (injury). It taught me a lot about patience and being humble. I had to tune a lot of people out, but I always took it as a challenge, like I had something to prove.”
Green has built upon her strive for improvement entering her senior year with the Nevada women’s track and field team. She moved to third all-time at Nevada in the 400 meter dash at the Mountain West Championships last season. She also finished second in the 400 meter dash with a time of 56.79 seconds at the Boise State Challenge.
Green’s record times on the track are a testament to her hard work behind the scenes. Head track and field coach Shantel Twiggs has seen Green challenge herself every step of the way, often watching her treat a casual practice like a conference championship.
“She has gone above and beyond to engage me in conversation of how to get better,” Twiggs said. “You see her efforts and mindset in practice. There’s been some casual practices where she comes with an agenda to be the best version of herself that she can be.”
COVID-19 is a new obstacle for Green to overcome. The pandemic canceled all 2020 spring sports, including the outdoor season for the Nevada women’s track and field team. Fall sports have been postponed until the spring, pushing the Wolf Pack’s season back further.
Adversity is nothing new for Green, she’s grown accustomed to better herself from each difficult situation. Most of the athletic facilities at the university are closed, so she is running on hills, vacant tracks or narrow dirt roads to prepare for the upcoming year.
“Finding any sort of land to replicate my routine is important,” she said. “If and when our season returns, I know I’ll be ready to give it my all and compete.”
Green credits her discipline to growing up in a large family driven by sports. Her father, Ronnie Green, was an All-American on Texas Tech’s 1,600 meter relay team and qualified for the Olympic Trials in the 200 meter dash. Lauren’s mother, Sheri Granger, ran the 800 meter dash while her oldest brother, Ryan Green, competed in track and field and played cornerback at Navy.
Lauren jokes that her father was the short-distance sprinter and her mother was the long-distance runner. Together, they created a superb athlete that combined each of their strengths.
“It’s a genetic thing for us,” she chuckled. “We all did a bunch of sports when we were younger. My parents never pushed me to track—it was never a forceful thing. It was kind of something I fell into, and I was this hybrid between them.”
As Green finds new ways to push her physical and mental limits, her fellow coaches are left in awe of her sheer determination. Coach Jenkins and Green bonded at his Albuquerque training facility, her hustle left an everlasting impression.
“There’s no end to the amount of work she does,” Jenkins said. “That young lady doesn’t know how to stop, she’s just incredible… With the amount of work I put on my athletes, Lauren kept pushing through. And she does it with such a positive attitude, almost like she appreciates it.”
Entering her 16th season of coaching the Wolf Pack, Twiggs has pushed Green from her true freshman year onwards to see what she was capable of. Now the roles have changed, as Green has challenged herself to limits Twiggs didn’t think were possible.
If and when a spring sports season returns to Nevada, Green will be relied upon as a key member for the women’s track and field team.
“Coaching her has been such an eye opening experience for me,” Twiggs said. “It’s something I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of the process with her. She has let me challenge and push her to crazy extents, and she’s always risen to the next level and stayed committed.”
Just like her torn ACL she suffered in high school, COVID-19 is another obstacle in the way of Green’s path toward success. She won’t stop working until her goal is completed.
“The fun part is to keep improving,” she said. “Everyone is going through this right now, but I feel like you can either complain about it or show up and surprise everyone… There’s only two routes in my mind, and I’m choosing the right one.”
Isaiah Burrows can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Isaiah__Burrows.