Whitney Johnson-Courtright sat down and breathed a big sigh of relief after speaking to 150 foster children enrolled at San Pasqual Academy, a unique residential school for high school-aged kids.
She had delivered an inspiring talk about her own life as a foster child, her track and field career at U.C. San Diego that finished as the 2008 NCAA Division II triple jump champion and National Field Athlete of the Year, and her goal of working toward a medical degree to become a hospital trauma room surgeon.
“That was the scariest thing I’ve ever done,” she said. “I’ll take competing in the national track meet over that any day.”
Johnson-Courtright spoke at the invitation of Chargers cornerback Quentin Jammer and his wife, Alicia. The Jammer Family Foundation hosted its fourth annual Thanksgiving dinner last week for San Pasqual Academy’s students.
If Johnson-Courtright, 22, was your stereotypical overachieving student athlete, her fear of public speaking could be perceived as cute. But if you know her life story, national track meets and public speaking must be the first two tasks confronted she’s ever found daunting.
When Whitney was 11 and living in Bakersfield, the police came to her mother’s place of employment and took her into custody. Her mother had been in and out of prison for embezzlement, and she was on her way back.