When Alabama Coach Miguel Pate called Quanesha Burks to recruit her to join the school’s track team, she squeezed in the calls while working the drive-thru. Burks was a driven, committed employee at McDonald’s, working long shifts around her high school practice schedule. By the time she graduated, she’d earn 11 state titles.

“Coach Pate actually had to sit me down with my high school coach, Kenny Lopez, and guidance counselor so I could understand how my life was going to change and I wouldn’t need to work at McDonald’s,” Burks told Sports Illustrated.

Today she has a new job: professional jumper. The Alabama standout has had a series of highs and lows in the past few years, bouncing back from injuries to secure a spot in Tokyo. 

“I feel like still to this day I get overlooked. That’s O.K. I just know it all starts with your confidence within. Everything I’ve become is because of my mindset and my determination.”

Over the next couple of weeks, Reckon will introduce you to several Southern Olympians competing in Tokyo. Visit Reckon’s Instagram to see all our Southern Olympians.