Atlanta’s Golden Girl
Written by Gordon Pynes
Every athletics coach dreams of finding an athlete with great natural talent and a desire to use its full measure. That combination could lead to a championship trophy or a gold medal.
Coaches motivate and athletes do the hard work. Such was the case for this writer and a young girl who found distance running to be her talent.
Entering Atlanta Middle School Sarah Haydel sought to find her place in sports. Just entering her teen years she tried several sports and found herself going out for track.
A bit gangly and not well coordinated at that age she wound up running a mile and a half race. She just ran and ran those six laps around the track and easily won her first ever competitive school race.
Sarah had no idea what the next several years would bring in her athletic career and how this writer would be blessed in coaching her.
As her talent became more and more evident Sarah moved on to high school and as a freshman quickly continued her winning ways on the Cross Country team.
As fate would have it at this point our paths crossed. I had survived a bout with prostate cancer and retired from coaching. To ease into retirement my wife and I had taken a trip to New England to escape some of the football and cross country seasons.
Upon returning I ventured out to the track one evening. Only two other people were there, Victor Adams and his daughter, Sarah.
He approached and asked if I would coach her. I explained about my retirement but he persisted. Then I just asked to see her run one lap. She complied and I eagerly replied, “Yes I’ll coach her”.
Little did I then know how she would jump start and extend my coaching career.
Sarah had a natural ability for distance running and an attitude to excel. She was willing to do what I asked and her next two years of competition (1998-99) would certainly reflect that.
I paired her with a male classmate, Aaron Perkins, who was a good young runner in his own right. They made a perfect workout pair as Aaron worked to stay ahead in every practice by setting the pace.
Her parents Victor and Connie plus younger sisters Rachel and Becca provided great family support through many races.
In those next two years prior to a back injury, Sarah Haydel became Atlanta’s Lady Rabbs’ most decorated athlete.
She earned the Regional Cross Country crown and finished eighth at State running in cold and sleet that day. Six months later she swept the field at the State Track Meet winning both the 1600 and 3200 meter runs.
That next fall Sarah ran second in State Cross Country and then repeated her victories in track the following spring.
She became the first Lady Rabb ever to win four State champion gold medals in individual events.
In her entire Atlanta running career on the track Sarah went undefeated in every one of her many races.
Sarah is married to Aaron Carter and they reside in Hutto with their four children, twins Hannah Bryce and Aidan (12), Sydney (7) and Hudson (6).
Her record times still stand after 20 years both at Atlanta High School, our Running Rabbs’ meet and at meets all around East Texas.
Sarah Haydel Carter is our Lady Rabbs’ Golden Girl and deserves a first chair in the Atlanta Athletics Hall of Fame.