The cheers get her attention, but Natasha Dicks wants to hear only her inner voice.
She blocks out the noise around her, encouraging herself to go for 24 feet when her coach wants 19 feet on the long jump.
“You know how in the movies, you hear yourself? That’s what it’s like,” Dicks said. “I’ll just talk to myself all the time – that’s not a surprise. I try to set a goal.”
Dicks’ method worked again this year as she won the Class AAAA triple jump state for the second year in a row with a distance of 40-feet, 2.5 inches and came in second in the long jump with 18’ 5.5”. Because of her success, Dicks is The Augusta Chronicle’s girls track and field athlete of the year.
Dicks is also a member of the Aiken volleyball team. The Lady Hornets won the state title in 2010 and fell one win short of a repeat this past season.
Track keeps her fit for volleyball – and vice versa – but Dicks sometimes mixes up jumps. There are moments when she’s on the court, going up for a kill in practice, but she finds herself jumping out instead of up.
More often than not, she is dominant in both.
Dicks likes the individual nature of track because she can control how she performs and doesn’t rely on others, but track can be a little trickier when it comes to judging how she does.
“When you hit the ball, everybody knows that it’s good. But if you jump, not many people can tell. ‘Well, you jumped far, but did you win?’ ” she said.
“Volleyball, you can show off more. When you hit everybody screams.”
Dicks hopes to add a state title at long jump with another triple jump win in her senior year. Though her mother tells her she doesn’t appreciate all her success, Dicks doesn’t deny it.
But that’s because she is ready for the next task, the next volleyball to hit or the jump to take.
“The more I get, the more I want,” Dicks said. “Before I even got on the podium, I was ready to just come back out there and win again. I’m always ready for the next thing.”