Story By Nathan Peterson
Gatorade has named Makayla Long out of Perry High School as the 2020-21 Arizona Girls Track and Field Player of the Year, the latest in a long series of accomplishments for the multi-sport athlete.
In April, Long set the Arizona state record for shot put with a 53’ 3” throw that only scratches the surface of showing the work for the Perry Graduate.
Long was named the NSAFxAthleticNET Virtual National Championships Discus National Champion, the Shot Put National Runner Up, and was named to the AthleticNET All-America Team. She also had the top discus mark in the US at 166’ 11”.
“It is just the motto that hard work really does pay off,” Long explained. “You can always strive to be better and you’re never quite satisfied but it is always nice to have these accomplishments along the way.”
Long has made a big impact on Perry High School’s Track and Field program after transferring from West Linn (Oregon) before her Junior year. She helped lead the Pumas to a fourth-place finish by sweeping the shot put and discus events at the Division 1 state meet.
Long, who is also committed to Baylor University on a full-ride athletic scholarship, has not let much of anything get in her way from succeeding.
As COVID crippled many athletes’ physical goals and growth, Long spent time in Colorado perfecting her craft.
“I usually try to keep my goals in small steps,” said Long. “First meet, go out and just compete and get your first meet under your belt. Then you go meet by meet and each time trying to compete the best you can. You don’t think of state records, titles, or Gatorade player of the years; just doing the best that you can at that meet. So that is what I did and what I set out to do.”
“A lot of little goals turned into one really big goal” she explained.
The 6 foot-tall Perry graduate understands that athletics only take someone so far but education is just as important. Long holds herself to a high standard in the classroom just as much as she does in athletic competition, as she has maintained a weighted 4.0 GPA.
“When it comes to academics and athletics, it comes down to how you are going to prioritize what is important to you,” Long explained. “Grades have always been a really big factor in our lives. Our parents have always told us that we need to get good grades so it has been ingrained in us from a young age.”
Long comes from a family of competitors with two brothers that both played Division 1 football.
“My dad has always coached us from a young age and ingrained a good work ethic along with what it means to be a team player,” explained Long. “My mom has just been a huge support system by being our number one cheerleader on the sideline. She gets just as nervous as we do and always wants to see us succeed. My two older brothers always pushing me to take that next rep or next throw because they are incredible athletes.”
“I would say my whole family contributes to who I am today. I owe a lot to them,” Long added.
Long will take her talents to Baylor University in Waco, Texas as a freshman this upcoming track and field season.