Vernon Lott: Sprinting Toward his Future


Risk is an unavoidable reality for any student-athlete. Nothing, as the saying goes, is ever certain, and the contemporary student-athlete knows this better than most. Each time an athlete steps on the field, court or track, possibilities reel through the psyche: I could win. I could set a record. Or, I could get hurt. I could fall and fail. This uncertainty, coupled with the stresses of the classroom, can prove to be overwhelming for many student-athletes. For many, after years of work in both academics and athletics, just getting to college is enough.

Not so for the Bruins’ newest track and field star, Vernon Lott.

Speaking to Lott, you notice at once he’s not a man easily satisfied. Serious, well-spoken and clever, he knows exactly what he wants, and he’s willing to work. And so, after two years competing at Division I University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas, he realized something was amiss.

“I began to really find myself,” Lott explained, “and I wanted something new, a new beginning, and just more out of life. It was a wonderful school, and I loved my track family. But I wasn’t happy and just felt like the school wasn’t for me.”

For Lott, the decision was simple. Life was fine in San Antonio, but “fine” isn’t Lott’s style. If he was going to dedicate himself to a university, a track program, he wanted everything to fit perfectly. He needed to take a risk.

“I took the risk of losing my athletic and academic scholarships to transfer somewhere that I thought would make me more happy. I didn’t know where I would go, but I knew God would guide me somewhere because he has a plan for me.”

The risks were there, but Lott was convinced and could not be dissuaded. He knew he needed to move – but to where?


Enter current Bruin Kenny May. George Fox University markets the slogan “Be Known,” but the words aren’t empty. There are benefits to “being known,” and, for Lott, “being known” by Kenny helped him determine where to go, where he belonged.

“Last November, I told my best friend, Kenny, my plans. He was attending George Fox at the time, so he said, ‘Why don’t you just run here with me on the track team?’”

A simple suggestion, and one that someone besides Lott might not have taken seriously. Go all the way to Oregon? Because of a single remark from a good friend?

But Lott knew. They had played sports together back in San Antonio from the time they were kids, and when Kenny spoke, Lott listened.

“I thought it was a great idea. Kenny and I have been friends since middle school, so I emailed [Bruin track-and-field coach] John Smith.” From there, things moved quickly and smoothly. Things were so easy, in fact, that Lott knew he made the right decision.

Vernon Yearbook

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“Smith took the time to email me back the first day I emailed him. No other coach did that for me. I also had a tremendous amount of help from my athletic recruiter, Keisha Gordon. She helped me get set up to immediately transfer for spring semester. I appreciated her and the head coach helping me so much. I knew I would be taken care of, coming from Texas all the way to Oregon. I believe God set me up to take the jump from Texas to Oregon because he knew I wanted more out of life.””Getting more out of life” is an apt slogan to describe Lott. But his ambition is not selfish or materialistic. Instead, it comes from his support structure, his family. From a very early age, Lott says, he was told that he could accomplish things. With some hard work, whatever he wanted from life was attainable.

“I come from a wonderful family. I grew up in a great community on the east side of San Antonio with real friends that I still have. My mother and father have influenced me to continue to work hard and make them proud. So I have always challenged myself to work hard, make honor roll and be involved.”

Lott is certainly involved. Besides representing the Bruins on the track, he studies finance (he likes numbers and math). He’s also always looking for new ways to be involved and take new risks. In high school, he was an active member of his local chapter of the National Honor Society, and he was president of YAGA, Youth Against Gang Activity.

I’ve learned so much growing up from being involved, and I’ve been privileged to get to know a lot of different people. I’ve always been a person that likes giving and helping people, because it just makes me feel happy to help and be very involved. I really like staying busy.”

This is an understatement. And so the question is: For someone so busy, someone whose life already seems so full, why run? Why slog through long practices in thick summer heat and icy winter rain?

Lott’s answer appears to be in his mindset. For him, it’s no burden but another outlet to extract meaning from life. “I run because God blessed me with this gift,” he said. “I also run because I just love the feeling of competing, the adrenaline rush before the gun goes off, the motivation to get better with a drive to keep working hard.”


Not surprisingly, the people he runs with matter, too. “I love being on a team, meeting new people and traveling. Running for me has always been like an escape and break from reality. It’s a great stress reliever as well, and I’m just generally happier when I run.”He has high goals for the upcoming season. Reunited with May, Lott imagines big things for the pair of friends. Given Lott’s work ethic, nothing should be considered unreasonable. “Kenny and I have always pushed each other in track, and I hope we’ll be kind of a dynamic duo because we finally get to run together on a team.”

More risks lie ahead for Lott – such is the nature of life. Many people run from risks. Lott runs, too. But he runs toward the future, always forward.

“I want to run every race like it’s my last. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of running.”