By Audrey Mulholland
Brittney Reese has been an NCAA record setter, Olympian, world champion and collegiate coach. Now, she is a mother aspiring to coach young athletes to greatness.
“I’m really into bringing kids up,” Reese said. “We have to work at the bottom to help us continue to be successful.”
In terms of track and field success, Reese has done it all. While on the team at the University of Mississippi, she made her first World team in 2007 and her first Olympic appearance a year later, competing in the long jump in both.
She now holds four records at Ole Miss, seven World Championship medals and three Olympic medals. She also is the current American long jump record holder, with a distance of 23 feet 8 ½ inches.
A native of Gulfport, Mississippi, Reese discovered her incredible athletic talent while she was in seventh grade. It wasn’t until her junior year of high school that Reese was introduced to long jumping, the event that would win her countless awards.
“The basketball team went out to the track because the coach was trying to find a long jumper,” Reese said.
“I asked him if I could go, he said ‘No, you got the 400 [meter sprint]’. I asked him again, he finally let me go and I ran and jumped around 16 feet, which is pretty impressive at that age. He said, ‘Go do it again’, and I went back and did it again.”
She ended up signing a two-year scholarship to play basketball at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, but Ole Miss was still recruiting her to run track. Then, a letdown with the basketball team led to an opportunity.
“I talked with my mom and my high school coach at the time looking for advice,” Reese said. “And they basically said, ‘If you want to make yourself, go with track and field. If you want to keep relying on other people, stick with basketball.’”
Reese competed for Ole Miss from 2006 to 2008 and still holds the records for long jump, high jump, and triple jump. In 2007 she made the United States World Championship team and placed 8th overall in the long jump.
“My time at Ole Miss was one of the best times I’ve had,” Reese said. “My teammates, we were family. I talk to a lot of them today still… I’ve always been indebted to Ole Miss.”
Reese said it was her coach at Ole Miss, Jeremy Fischer, who pushed her to turn pro after making her first world team while in college.
“He basically told me that I needed to be pushed more…the NCAA just wasn’t enough for me. So that’s kind of when I realized I was at a world stage and I could probably do some great things if I actually worked hard.”
And great things are exactly what she did. Reese went on to compete in the 2012, 2016, and 2021 Olympic games earning one gold (2012) and two silver (2016, 2021) medals for long jumping (Team USA).
Reese said winning an Olympic gold medal was like a dream come true. “I worked so hard to get that and that’s like the ultimate level you will get as a track athlete. I was overwhelmed with emotions, and tears… It’s that ‘finally’ moment of ‘This is what I’ve been working so hard for, and I got it’,” Reese said.
Her coach from Ole Miss remains one of her role models today. “I want to coach later on…I was able to learn a lot from him [by] watching him coach other athletes and me giving them advice…I feel like he was a good influence for me as far as after track with me wanting to coach,” Reese said.
Reese spent a few years as an assistant coach at Mesa Community College in Arizona, and recognizes the importance of perseverance.
“Don’t give up, that’s my main thing. Keep reaching for the stars, keep striving, keep being positive in your life… I had injuries, I had moments where I wanted to retire, but I was mentally strong and [understood] that there’s a process with everything in life.”