FORT VALLEY — Bruce Richmond shifts his gaze to the horizon and relays a story about his son, Travis.
It’s summer vacation, and some of the Richmonds are swimming in a hotel pool with their in-laws. As often happens, a competition springs up. Who can swim the farthest under water?
The dads go first, establishing the distance to beat at nearly a length. The eldest boys take their best shot, more than doubling what the men threw down. Then comes Travis Richmond.
Bruce Richmond’s baby — the youngest of four — goes end to end to end to end to end. He’s submerged for nearly two minutes before he comes up for air as the clear winner.
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The tale scatters several clues as to what makes Travis Richmond tick. Family is key. He is superbly conditioned. And he is extremely competitive.
The rising senior at Peach County is one of the area’s top prep athletes. And for the season he recently turned in on the oval, he has been named The Telegraph’s All-Middle Georgia Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
Richmond collected a host of honors as the season progressed. He secured top-eight finishes in the 100 meters, 200 meters and long jump at the GHSA Class AAA meet in May. He was high point man at the Fendley Relays in March. He earned titles in the 100 and the long jump in competitive Region 1-AAA.
“It pushed me to work harder in practice,” Richmond said of the prospect of facing track stalwarts like Monroe-Albany and Westover at the region meet. “If I stopped (training), I knew somebody out there was still practicing.”
Richmond, 18, learned the value of that work ethic from his older brothers and sister. Growing up in Arkansas, Bruce Richmond Jr. and Terrell Richmond played both ways for the school’s football team. After their games, the Richmond family would gather at home and discuss the good, the bad and the ugly.
“All the ingredients just fell for Travis,” Bruce Richmond said. “He absorbed everything.”
Almost everything, that is. He struggled to grasp the team concept of athletics. Travis Richmond’s competitive nature boiled over when he started playing recreation football upon relocating to Middle Georgia in 2004. He didn’t handle losing well and wasn’t afraid to point fingers.
“He would get disgusted,” Bruce Richmond said, “then slack up on his abilities.”
After one such display, another family discussion ensued. Bruce Richmond explained that no one player can carry a team. Concentrate on your job and execute it perfectly, he said. The rest will take care of itself.
“My brother said, ‘It’s not about you. It’s about your teammates,’ ” Travis Richmond said.
He took the words to heart.
Through the years, Richmond has developed into a tremendous teammate and leader. Despite feature-back talent and speed, Richmond willingly shared the ball-carrying load as Peach County won the AAA football championship. And he dismisses the notion that track is predominantly an individual endeavor.
“I don’t look at it as an individual sport because I’m trying to get points for my team,” Richmond said. “I want to do anything I can do to get us some points.”