All her life, Beverly Kearney has been about speed.
Now, it is about strength, although not the strength that heaves large iron spheres or hurls the discus. This time, it is that personal resolve that summons will from deep within. It is also about patience. When the body is not willing, the heart is.
Saturday at the annual orange/white spring game, the members of the Texas Longhorns football team will honor that strength.
In late December, when the Longhorns were preparing for the SBC Cotton Bowl Classic against LSU, Kearney's life took a strange and unexpected tragic turn.
They said she survived the automobile accident on the road in Florida because she was, well, Bev Kearney. That meant she was in tremendous physical condition and had an indomitable will to win. In short, Kearney's a survivor. Better said, she's a winner.
So while Mack Brown was looking for something special to do for Kearney, UT Athletics Directors DeLoss Dodds and Chris Plonsky were, through the Departments of Intercollegiate Athletics, establishing the Beverly Kearney Endowed Scholarship for Excellence within the Longhorn Foundation.
Since the accident, Kearney has undergone three surgeries and extensive rehabilitation. Even while recuperating from the injuries, she has maintained a presence with her nationally-ranked track & field team and now attends practice almost every day.
With the Texas Relays coming next weekend, Kearney has some goals that she'd like to meet. However, a prelude to that will come Saturday, as she is the honored guest of the Longhorns at their annual spring showcase that is part of the Spring Jamboree presented by Time Warner Cable.
She came to the UT campus in 1993 and has led the Longhorns to four National Championships and 15 league titles. All of that, the record shows.
But while her team's accomplishments are impressive, it is her on-going and positive impact on the lives of all of the student-athletes that has transcended sports and teams at Texas.
Throughout her rehabilitation, she has had many supporters from the Longhorns Athletics family, including Brown and his wife, Sally.
"We wanted to do something for Bev," he said. "She has done so much for athletics at Texas, and through all of this, she has shown the fight and courage to battle against a lot of tough obstacles. Sally and I appreciate her as a friend and we appreciate her great spirit. It is a chance to thank her for being the person that she is."
In her career as a track coach, her teams have been known for their determination and teamwork in a program whose nucleus starts with speed. Meet after meet, other schools might build up a lead in the longer running and field events, but come Saturdays, it is time for speed. Meet after meet, her sprinters have dashed to championship after championship.
Her squads have featured All-America sprinters, distance runners and field event stars. Her relay teams have been record-setting foursomes and featured some of the world's premier sprinters.
Now, ironically, she is learning the patience of the distance runner. What we know about that is, when the final lap comes, it is the will of the performer that dictates the finish.
Like Brown and the UT football program, her squad is built on teamwork, camaraderie and a family atmosphere. Saturday, as the central focus at the beginning of the game is on her, the message from the football players, staff, and coaches will be clear.
Kearney has a team and a Longhorn family behind her. She has instilled her will and spirit on her many championship teams and it is that very trait that is pushing her on the road to recovery.
For that, Bev, we're honored to applaud you, your determination, leadership and accomplishments.