Chelsie Decoud, freshman jumper, never had a chance to make long-lasting friendships like the ones she saw at school.
Decoud had to move from New Orleans during the fourth grade due to Hurricane Katrina.
“Sometimes I see people post pictures of them and their friends from when they were younger and now,” Decoud said, “I’d say I wish I was able to do that.”
Her family moved in with an uncle in Mississippi, then to a shelter home in Arkansas before finally settling down in Houston.
“I’m not used to being alone, but I’m used to adapting,” Decoud said. “When I got here, it was easy for me to make friends, but at the same time if I’m not around anyone, it’s like I’m also OK.”
Decoud grew up with seven siblings—four girls and three boys. She was the second youngest in the family.
“Most people think it’s not normal,” Decoud said. “I’ve met some people who have big families, too, and they like it.”
Decoud said she was glad to have such a big family. It kept her from feeling alone because most of the siblings were around the same age, meaning she always had someone to interact with.
She learned how to be happy without needing too much. Decoud said seeing her father, Earl, work at Wal-Mart and still be able to hold the family together was inspiring.
“Growing up, I didn’t have everything, but I realized I was a happy child,” Decoud said. “I didn’t have to want a lot of things. I guess you make do.”
Decoud chose Texas State because she had a gut feeling about Keith Herston, jumps coach. Decoud believed she would be able to achieve her goal of participating in the Olympics under Herston’s guidance.
“Very engaging, bright personality—people love being around her,” Herston said. “She lights up a room, I guess you could say, with just her personality and the energy that she brings.”
Decoud hopes to go to school to become a surgeon or other type of medical practitioner.
She chose the medical field after seeing her mother go through numerous back surgeries. Decoud wants to provide her mother, Lisa, with better care than she had previously received.
Once done with track, Chelsie knows how she wants to be remembered.
“Being myself the whole way through,” Decoud said. “Not letting anyone change me, not letting success change who I am and the way I was brought up, so I guess I want to be remembered as Chelsie.”
Follow Jose Campos on Twitter at @josewithaj