November 14, 2012 - By Katelyn Winkler
T.J. Carey during a run. Photos by T. Connolly (click for larger version)
Special to the Review
Shortly after Stan Ford began coaching T.J. Carey his freshman year, he knew the athlete could achieve greatness.
With his consistent performance, talent, and his work ethic, Carey ran his way through high school finishing as the second fastest runner in the state at the recent cross country championships.
Carey's skills became evident as an 8th grader at Waldon Middle School, where he broke personal and school records. A first-place finish in the Oakland County two mile and then setting a school record with the relay team, were the beginnings of Carey's outstanding performances.
Finishing 25th in the state in both his freshman and sophomore years, he knew he needed to work harder to become better than the rest.
The work paid off, according to Coach Ford, and Carey ran to a fourth place finish in his junior year.
"T.J takes training seriously," Ford said. "He is very competitive, but doesn't let his nerves get to him. When a coach is paired with an athlete with such talent, there is an added responsibility to help them get the most out of their talent."
When Carey and Ford arrived at the Michigan International Speedway two weeks ago, Carey prepared mentally before entering his biggest cross country race of his high school career yet.
"I try and stay as positive and as confident as I can. If I defeat myself, I will run badly," Carey said.
Carey completed the 3.1 mile race with a 15:09 personal best, which was good enough to be the second fastest high school athlete in the state.
"Four years of hard work had paid off," Ford said. "I was proud of Carey for stepping up to his competition and working hard. There are no time-outs and you have to be ready for anything, and T.J. was."
Next Carey will run in Indiana for the Nike-sponsored regional meet. If he qualifies, he will go to San Diego to compete for a national title.
After the spring track season, he will leave Lake Orion and attend college elsewhere.
"My career is undecided but possibly physical therapy," Carey said. "I will run at a division one school, either Michigan or Missouri. Scholarships have been offered but I have not made a commitment yet."
According to Ford, Carey possessed the right amount of nervousness and fun, which led him to a great high school career. Ford hopes for the best for Carey and believes he will continue to improve.
"Some athletes peak in high school and then they head off to college and you never hear about them again," Ford said. "I want Carey to attend a college that he learns to love and see how far his talent and work ethic will take him."
After four years of training together, Ford and Carey grew close to one another.
"You share the ups and downs with your athletes and it's hard not to get attached," Ford said. "You hurt when they hurt, and you're happy when they're happy. I can't describe it."