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Life in the fast lane

Activities keep sprinter in constant motion

Posted: Tuesday, May 02, 2000

One of the hardest things for Kenai Central's Tamanika Haynes to learn was that "no" is part of mono.

When the senior contracted the energy-sapping disease this year over Christmas break, it was like Alaska losing its scenery or a fly losing its elusiveness.

Boundless energy, which had defined Haynes as she had become involved in an endless string of activities at Kenai, was suddenly gone.

"It was a terrible Christmas vacation," said Tamanika's mother, Jackie Haynes. "She was so inactive and that's not like her.

"She didn't get up out of bed except to do the things she had to do."

Even to this day, Haynes, who says mono forced her to lose 20 pounds, is still not back to 100 percent due to lingering effects of the illness.

"It's been really hard for me," Haynes said. "I love to be really active in school and everything.

"It's been hard telling myself, 'No, don't get involved in this. It'll just get you sicker.'''

Of course, a Haynes holding back on her activities is still a lot more active than an average high school student.

The senior is Kenai's reigning student council president, homecoming queen and prom queen. She is involved with the track team, Kenai Peninsula Youth Court, Mock Trial, a group that works to reduce the risk of AIDS in teens and the National Honors Society.

She also is the student representative on the committee that sets the school calendar and a representative on a program that works to keep schools safe and drug free.

And, oh, by the way, she also finds the time to earn A's and B's in the classroom.

"We call her our social butterfly," said Jackie. "She's always liked to be involved with people."

The traits that would evolve into the active senior began to emerge as far back as when Haynes was 5 years old.

Jackie put up solid track and field numbers in her days at Kenai Central, and it didn't take long for Tamanika to show she had the talent to follow in her mother's quick footsteps.

As a 5-year-old, Haynes set foot on the track as part of the Arco Jesse Owens program and ran away from everybody else.

"Before that, we hadn't even thought about her having speed," Jackie said. "Then all of a sudden she was out there running by herself."

While Haynes' swiftness of foot took little time to emerge, it took a little longer for her qualities as a leader to surface.

In her days at Kenai Middle School, Haynes became involved in Future Problem Solving.

"I think that built her courage as a leader," Jackie said. "You could see it more and more through sixth, seventh and eighth grade."

Then in high school, the social butterfly slipped all the way out of her cocoon.

"It was like, 'Who is this person?'" Jackie said. "She wanted to be involved in everything.

"We said, 'Wait a second, you don't drive yet.' We became a personal taxi service."

Making Haynes' involvement in activities all the more impressive is that she does more than just show up at a few meetings so she can put another club down on her college applications.

"She hasn't slacked off at all," said Cathy Zorbas, the activities director at Kenai Central. "I haven't seen any lack of effort because she's involved in a lot of things.

"This has been one of the best years that student council has seen."

Judge Charles Cranston has spent numerous hours working with Haynes on both the Kenai Peninsula Youth Court and Mock Trial.

The two once went on a local radio program to discuss Youth Court and Cranston said the air time brought out what is special about Haynes.

"She impressed everybody," he said. "She has a great way of expressing herself and endearing herself to people.

"She's a great communicator. She's able to say what's right in a way that people can understand."

Haynes currently is the president of the Youth Court Bar Association and a judge. Unlike Mock Trial, which deals with fictitious cases, Youth Court deals with real crime and real juveniles.

"As a judge, Tamanika can relate to the defendant in a way that generates respect on the part of the defendant," Cranston said. "When she imposes a sentence, she lets people know they've done something wrong, but it's also clear she isn't putting them down in any way.

"It's very effective."

For Haynes, serving on Youth Court has assured she stays out of trouble.

"How could I be the judge of somebody if I was at the same party they were caught at?" Haynes said. "I've never wanted to be in that position."

Besides giving those punitive benefits, Youth Court also has had financial benefits for the Haynes family.

Though she has enjoyed her time in court, Haynes will not pursue law in college. Instead, she will study business and public relations next year at Arizona State University.

"I guess Youth Court saved my parents a lot of money," Haynes said. "They don't have to pay for law school now."

Haynes pours the same amount of energy into track as she does her other activities. Renee Henderson, the sprint coach at Kenai, had Tamanika in track for four years and Jackie in choir for four years.

Henderson's experiences with the mother and daughter show speed is not the only apple that didn't fall very far from the tree.

"(Jackie) was one of the most fabulous young people that I have ever met," Henderson said. "She was really a treat. And to have her daughter, I feel really lucky.

"I like the same qualities in both of them. They're self-motivated and strive to do things in a highly excellent manner."

Haynes has made it to the state track meet every year, including three straight years with Kenai's 800-meter relay team.

Among her individual accomplishments are fifth at state in the 200 and 400 and sixth in the 100. This year, Haynes is the anchor on the Kardinals' 800-meter relay, which has posted Region III's fastest time.

Haynes also has been an invaluable leader on a young Kenai track team. Even co-coach Rebecca Hunter, who is in her first year at Kenai, goes to Haynes for information.

"I rely on her a lot since I'm new," Hunter said. "She'll tell me what to expect at different meets and what people to watch for.

"She's helped me learn about track in Alaska."

Even though Haynes has one of the region's fastest times in the 100 this year, she's still not satisfied.

"I'm very far from it," she said. "I'm putting in extra work in the morning. Hopefully, I'll get back to where I want to be."

And where she wants to be, naturally, is going full speed ahead.



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