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Roisin Willis runs in her own shoes

Published: Jun. 29, 2020 at 7:33 PM CDT
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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) -SPASH’s Roisin Willis was named the Gatorade Wisconsin Track and Field Athlete of the Year for the second year in a row. Willis was born with the running gene in her blood. Her mother is Breeda Dennehy-Willis who was an Olympic long-distance runner for Ireland.

“It definitely helps to have an athlete as a mother,” Willis said.

A mother who doesn’t pressure Roisin into being something more than she is.

“She’s definitely from my perspective more of a mother,” Willis said. “We don’t discuss running much.”

Surprisingly, Roisin didn’t have her eyes fully set on running to start.

“She did like little running groups when I was younger with other kids around Point,” said Willis. “I would do those from time-to-time, but I would do other sports besides that.”

Her mom could see the talent from the beginning.

“She definitely believed in me before I realized what I’m capable of,” said Willis. “She knows what I can do, but wouldn’t ever force that pressure on me.”

The competitive juices are still flowing for Willis.

“It’s not like I feel like I need to impress her,” Willis said. “It’s more like I want to impress myself.”

Impressing herself is what helps motivate her and shows her what life is all about.

“When you win a big race, you just feel so excited and happy, and you just feel like this is what living is like,” Willis said. “This is how I want to spend my life winning races and competing.”

Willis is already making her way up the competition ladder. She won virtual nationals in the 400 and 800 for her age group last month. She says she has received multiple college offers, and she’s planning to start looking at colleges through her junior and senior years.

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