‘Heart of a champion’: All-American Alexis Brown overcomes injuries, leaps toward program records

One day removed from the program record to win the long jump, senior sprinter and jumper Alexis Brown dashed out to take the women's 100-meter title in 11.42 seconds on Saturday, which is the ninth-best mark in the NCAA so far. Lilly Yablon | Photographer

By Cal Logan | Reporter

In the world of Baylor Athletics, the name Alexis Brown is a familiar one.

The Kennedale native has dominated Baylor track and field‘s indoor season, as she won 2024 All-American Indoor honors and 2024 All-Big 12 Indoor because of her prowess in long jump. This past weekend at the Clyde Hart Invitational, which was her first outdoor meet in two years, Brown set a new program record for the long jump, as she recorded a 22-11 mark twice, and won the women’s 100-meter race. Brown is a senior in her second year at Baylor after transferring from Florida in 2022.

“The reason why I’m having the success that I’m having is because of the relationships I have with my coaches and teammates,” Brown said. “Having that support and kind of family look at everything helps you be happy and want to go out and perform. I come here every day happy and ready to work hard because I’m around such great people.”

Brown has become close to head coach Michael Ford and associate head coach Stacey Smith through her time in Waco.

“They communicate well because I work with different coaches throughout the week,” Brown said. “Building a relationship with them has helped because they listen to me and care about me more as a person than an athlete, and I think that is so important.”

Brown has struggled with injuries her whole career, starting while competing at Florida.

“When I got there, I kept getting injured,” Brown said. “I had stress fractures in my back, [and] then COVID-19 happened. Then sophomore year, I had a stress fracture in my heel. By my junior year, I just got to the point where mentally, I felt like I couldn’t [stay] anymore with the injuries, so I ended up entering the transfer portal.”

When picking a university to transfer to, Brown remembered how Baylor recruited her out of high school.

”I always remembered coach Stacey and coach Ford and how they recruited me,” Brown said. “I felt like that was where I needed to go. I felt like Baylor was home. God led me here, and I couldn’t be happier.”

Brown fought through injuries in her foot but couldn’t figure out why it kept coming up until she got to Baylor.

”They took me to a doctor in Austin to get an MRI, and they found that I had an extra bone in my foot,” Brown said. “They removed the bone, and I haven’t had problems since.”

Brown is healthy and accumulating awards for the Bears now, but the road to recovery wasn’t the easiest path.

”Recovery was hard mentally,” Brown said. “My experiences with injuries have been back to back — always something else. I hadn’t had a healthy year, so mentally, I was like, ‘How do I get through this?’

“But then the support I had from my coaches, teammates, trainers and ultimately my faith allowed me to come back from that. By the time fall came around, I was back training.”

Brown credits her faith for allowing her to come back from battling injuries through her college career.

“My faith is everything to me,” Brown said. “If I didn’t have my faith, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now. I had so much doubt with all those injuries, and the only thing that got me through it was my faith in Christ, knowing that He has a plan for me.”

Brown’s favorite verse is Isaiah 41:10, which reads, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

“The main part of that verse is to fear not, so when I go through something, I do not fear, and I let go and let God,” Brown said. “That’s something that’s gotten me through everything. I know that everything happens for a reason. I didn’t see it then, but I’ll see it now. I have trust and faith in God, which has helped me so much.”

Smith is someone who has watched Brown battle back time and time again.

“She’s very determined,” Smith said. “Everything she does, she does at 100%. I’ve had athletes come through here for years — and they’ve all worked hard, don’t get me wrong — but on her face, every day she gives 100%.

“I don’t care how tired she is, if something is bothering her or if she’s had a long day. When she steps on that track, it’s 100%. For me, that strength is what I admire about her.”

With Smith being the first woman in program history to win a national championship, she said Brown’s work ethic is of an elite standard.

“If people could see the way she trained — I would look at her sometimes this past summer, and she’d be at the building, and I’d say, ‘What are you doing here?’” Smith said. “And she was like, ‘Coach, I just want to get better.’ To me, the definition of the heart of a champion is Lex.”

Smith wants others to know Brown’s story — not just the accolades but what she had to do to get to where she is now.

“I tell Alexis all the time, ‘You have a story to be told,'” Smith said. “I would love for people to tell her story and what she has gone through and how she’s fought back.”