July 29, 2021 (updated August 13, 2021)
Meet Jessica Ramsey, CASA volunteer and Olympic athlete
The world may know Jessica Ramsey as an American shot putter who, at the US Olympic Track & Field Team Trials held last month, threw a US Olympic Trials Championships Record to win the women’s shot put 20.12 m (66ft.). However, CASA of Lafayette County in Oxford, Miss., knows Ramsey as a passionate and dedicated court appointed special advocate (CASA) volunteer.
Last week, National CASA/GAL Association for Children’s director of network communications & marketing, Jetaun Woodly, sat down with Ramsey to learn more about her, her journey to one of the most coveted athletic competitions in the world, and what it means to her to be a CASA volunteer.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Florida and was an athlete in school. I used to be a sprinter before moving to field events and ultimately focusing on shot put. While at Western Kentucky University, I become a six-time All-American. Track & field has been a passion of mine for a long time.
Why did you become a CASA volunteer?
When I’m not training or spending time with my family and friends, I enjoy working with kids. Before becoming a CASA volunteer, I volunteered at a crisis center in Oxford, Miss. Some of the staff introduced me to Erin Smith, executive director of CASA of Lafayette County. I fell in love with the mission. I want to make a positive change in a child’s life – and even the family’s life. It means the world to me. After my first case, I felt great. I immediately saw that I made an impact. To see a young child not have to worry, to be placed in a stable environment, allowing that child to thrive, was rewarding to me.
How long have you been a volunteer?
I’ve been a volunteer for about 1 ½ years now. I look forward to more cases when I come back from Tokyo.
I’m glad you mentioned Tokyo! Tell us how you felt when you qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team.
I felt great. I felt amazing. I believe in a positive mindset and speaking things into existence. I always told myself I was going to make it. To actually qualify for the team was a great blessing for me.
What do you do to prepare for such an amazing competition? I focus on three things: 1) keeping a great mindset, 2) staying focused and 3) eating right. I make sure I always communicate with my coaches, and apply what they say when I train and compete. I’m also approaching the Olympic Games like any other meet so I don’t get overwhelmed by the size of it all.
Are there any similarities between how you prepare to advocate for a child or youth when you volunteer, and how you prepared for the Olympics?
Being a CASA volunteer and being an athlete both require you to make sure you have all the knowledge and information necessary for the best possible outcome.
What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering?
This is the best opportunity to have hands on experience with children and families that you’re looking to help.
What are you looking forward to (besides winning)?
The opportunity to say I’ve taken gold at the trials and the Olympics.
Where can the CASA/GAL network find you on social media to support you and follow your Olympic journey?
They can find me on Instagram @_chef_ramsey. Thank you for all the support.