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This Friday,is scheduled to receive his "T" Ring, a Texas State tradition and token of achievement for student-athletes graduating as a Bobcat.However, Rolle will not be in attendance at the morning ceremony.The two-time Texas State Academic Achievement award winner will be in Louisiana alongside his teammates competing for a Sun Belt Conference outdoor track and field championship.While he knows where he will be – and where he could be as one of 41 Bobcats receiving their "T" Ring this spring – the same could not be said this time a year ago. Grades slipping for a usually great student.The burden of it all became overwhelming.

His mother, Beverly, was a sprinter from Texas, running in the 100- and 200-meter dashes. Born and raised in the Bahamas, Rolle primarily played basketball while growing up in Abaco. When he and his family moved back to Texas at the start of his American high school experience (in the Bahamas, high school starts at seventh grade), he had yet to compete in the sport.Junior year arrived, and Rolle eventually decided to participate in track for the first time – once basketball season was over, of course, since basketball season crosses over with track.For Chisholm Trail High School in Fort Worth, Rolle went on to become a three-time state qualifier: in the 4x100 and 4x400 as a junior and then 4x400 as a senior.However, getting noticed in an individual sport like track and field is difficult when your best performances are on relay teams. It's located an hour-plus in between Lubbock, Midland, San Angelo and Abilene but one of the top junior colleges for sprinting.

He qualified for 2019 NJCAA Indoor Championships and was getting recruited by former Texas State assistant coach Ray Williams.A month into being in a familiar role as a leg in the 4x4, Rolle was finally progressing like he wanted. Injuries slowed him down again, though, and then the global pandemic ended every competitor's season.Rolle kept doing what he does best when he is away from the track. The former Scholar All-America selection in junior college earned the first of his two Academic Excellence awards (so far) after earning a grade point average between 3.5 and 3.9 in the fall or spring semesters of 2020.A son of a teacher, Rolle learned his studious nature from his mother.

"Even when I was younger, she would always be in my face about school," said Rolle. "When collegiate meets started to come back in 2021, Rolle faced his archnemesis again: injuries. The Rolle family adopted him into theirs and was a key piece in Donald's upbringing.

A year earlier, in August 2020, Rolle faced the loss of another family member: his aunt. "You're coming home, sad, and eating junk food from Wendy's," said Rolle. He failed his first class ever, in forensic science, that spring.

"Climbing out of the hole did not necessarily need effort. "I didn't think he was going to let me back on. "With his spot back, Rolle began to work hard in the classroom once again.

"After almost two years of not competing in a meet, Rolle returned to the track this past January. It is why he has a tattoo of "8/11" on his forearm.And this Friday – the day he is supposed to walk for graduation from Texas State if he were not competing – is May 13, his late aunt's birthday.Rolle's family will be joining him in Lafayette for the Sun Belt outdoor championships.

The other one was only 10 days ago at Texas A&M.The Rolle family was there together as they all suffered loss.

"They're coming to (conference championships) with me, and I'm hurt. "Even when I'm down, they make me rise back up. "After graduation and competition, Rolle has plans to become a firefighter.

Like his family helped him when he needed it most.Rolle's collegiate career will end with having never experienced a full season due to injuries. Got to Texas State, but battled injuries throughout and lost a spot on the relay team. He returned to an outdoor meet for the first time in three years. "And most importantly, he will achieve what every student-athlete is trying to accomplish in life: earning a degree.

For Clark, she can see why Rolle reached this point despite the obstacles. "He's a dedicated hard worker and won't stop until the job is done," said Clark.

"He's able to take the setbacks, and see those as a learning experience, and use that as fuel for the rest of his life. "If you could embody the word perseverance, that would be Donald."

Donald Rolle and Taahir Kely
Donald Rolle and Taahir Kely
Men's 4x400 Sun Belt Championship Team
Men's 4x400 Sun Belt Championship Team

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