Inspired and determined, this athlete will do what she can to succeed.
Sydni Willis, sophomore sprinter and hurdler, believes in treating people the way she wants to be treated. Willis is never disrespectful.
Her mother, Kimberly Willis, has always told the Bobcat’s family just that.
Sydni Willis has three siblings in total—one being her twin, Symone Willis. The athlete said the two were inseparable growing up.
“We really get each other,” the Bobcat said. “We have our moments when we just look at each other and know something is going on, and we just start laughing. We know what each other is thinking and she always knows what I am thinking about nine times out of 10.”
When the twins were in the third grade, Symone Willis was sick and needed to go to the hospital for about a month.
Their mother had been bitten by a spider and had used a wash cloth to wipe her leg down. Symone Willis used the cloth on her eye, not knowing what it had been used for.
Sydni Willis said the next morning her sister’s eye was swollen like a golf ball.
“They had to rush her to the hospital, and they took her to a hospital two hours away from where we live,” the athlete said. “She had to be in the hospital for a month or two, and during that time she almost died. I thought to myself, ‘What am I going to do if she’s gone?’”
The Bobcat said she did not know how to react in that situation. It was the hardest thing she has ever had to face.
Once the doctors found out that Symone had a twin, they told Sydni sometimes when one twin is sick, the other will start showing symptoms.
The doctors also said sometimes when bringing together twins, it will make the ill twin happier. It is some type of miracle.
“They brought me in the next day and I stayed with her for a week,” Sydni Willis said. “We were just interacting with each other. It was normal. She started getting better after that, and she made a full recovery. It was the best thing in the world.”
The Bobcat said it was hard to deal with, but her sister is better and has not had a scare like that since then.
“I thank God for it, because she is alive and well,” Sydni Willis said.
The athlete didn’t grow up with material things. She and her siblings had a rough and unforgettable upbringing.
She did not grow up in a big house, but rather in an apartment complex in Arlington. Kimberly Willis was working three jobs and did the best she could to take care of her family.
Sydni Willis said she didn’t have much of anything, and that’s what made it fun.
“You never forget where you came from,” the athlete said. “Those are the times that my siblings and I made it fun for ourselves. We didn’t have much of anything, so we enjoyed being a family. All we had at the end of the day was each other, and that was all that mattered.”
The Bobcat said the times she had nothing, it felt like she had everything. It made her appreciate what she had.
The athlete is never ashamed of her upbringing, because it is what made her who she is today.
Family is everything to Sydni Willis, and being on her own was tough. However, she managed to power through and become someone admirable.
Coming to Texas State, she wanted to prove to the coaches they didn’t make a mistake putting her on the roster. She never took a practice for granted, and wanted to lead by example.
The Bobcat said she needed to make sure she was not forgotten, and hoped to make a statement to the future freshmen.
“I feel like they can reach their full potential no matter what,” Sydni Willis said. “Don’t let it slip through your fingers because there are so many people that wish they can be in your spot, so it is a blessing to be here. You are here for a reason, Coach picked you for a reason, so why back down?”
Sydni Willis never backed down.
She started running in the sixth grade, and it inspired her to continue.
“I just really like the thrill,” the athlete said. “It can test yourself. It is just you and God. After you give everything up, that’s all that matters. You can just run to the best of your ability, and that is all you can ever ask for.”
Track is not a business. She believes it is a sport that brings people together. People from all walks of life can join. It gives her a reason to love the sport so much more.
The Bobcat was a hurdler in the USATF National Junior Olympics before her collegiate career. To reach that point, she had to learn how to run again.
The athlete’s summer track coach wanted her to forget everything she had learned and to start fresh. The first time putting the new training to work, the athlete felt she could trust her form a lot more.
It was hard to accept the fact she was just as good as the other elite athletes running alongside her.
In each round, the Bobcat was getting faster and faster and she couldn’t believe it.
“Other schools started calling me and asking for visits,” Sydni Willis said. “There was just something about Texas State. They wanted me when no one else did. I knew who I was already going for.”
The big dream for Sydni Willis is to one day compete in the Olympics.
The athlete said there are so many talented people that could make it, but she is going to strive and compete in the Olympics.
Sydni Willis’ coaches tell her it could be a reality, so she takes it day by day.
“I don’t really know the big things that I want to do with my life yet,” the Bobcat said. “But after going to the Junior Olympics and actually competing, I was thinking that the Olympics could actually be a reality for me. If I could make it this far, why stop now?”