During one of the busiest weeks of the season for the Brookhaven High School track and field program, several members of the boys and girls teams walked into a room April 16 to talk about running times, relay work and what they could expect while competing in two meets over the next five days.

During one of the busiest weeks of the season for the Brookhaven High School track and field program, several members of the boys and girls teams walked into a room April 16 to talk about running times, relay work and what they could expect while competing in two meets over the next five days.

The best athlete on the girls team wasn't there.

Charletta Henley, who missed advancing to the Division I state meet in the long jump by two places last season, was stretching and working out on the track with the intent of completing practice as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Time is precious these days for Henley, a senior who has experienced more than her share of adult situations and responsibilities.

She is the daughter of former Brookhaven football standout and NFL player Charles "June" Henley, and much of her time not on the track is spent taking care of her son, Deshawn Alston Jr., who is nearly 2 years old.

"I overcome things when I run," she said. "I've had to overcome a lot."

According to her mother, Traice Simmons, the athleticism that has helped Charletta become one of central Ohio's top track athletes has long been evident.

Even when her daughter was a 4-year-old participating in gymnastics, Simmons was asked, "Why is she so muscular?"

Charletta remembers her mother explaining that her physique was "because of her dad."

June Henley and Simmons met at Brookhaven, where he would become one of the greatest running backs in state history and she was a cheerleader.

As a senior in 1992, he rushed for 2,582 yards and 35 touchdowns and helped the Bearcats reach a Division II state semifinal.

He then went to Kansas University, where he rushed for 12 touchdowns and broke the Jayhawks and Big Eight freshman records with 1,127 yards in 1993.

Also during that fall, he was arrested for shoplifting. It was the first in a string of incidents that would land him in legal trouble for much of the next decade.

As a senior at Kansas in 1996, June rushed for 17 touchdowns and 1,349 yards in 10 games.

He was selected in the fifth round of the 1997 NFL draft by Kansas City but spent his rookie season on St. Louis' practice squad.

The next season, June made the Rams and rushed for 313 yards and three touchdowns. He received a two-year contract after the season, but in July 1999 suffered a toe injury that effectively ended his career.

Charletta, meanwhile, was involved with cheerleading and basketball. According to Simmons, Charletta once was part of a competition cheer team that won a national title.

The family moved back to Columbus in 2000, and Charletta attended McGuffey Elementary.

"My mom and I lived in Kansas when I was little and went to all of the football games," she said. "I think it's crazy because everybody here knows my dad. It's like, 'Hey Henley, you got a legend (in your family).' I really wasn't into track as a young girl. I just thought I'd live this famous life and I guess I'd be daddy's little girl."

June's legal problems continued, however, and in 2005 he was sentenced to four years for robbery. Charletta corresponded by mail with her father while he was in prison, according to Simmons.

Although Charletta currently attends Columbus Downtown High School, being an athlete at Brookhaven was something that seemed to fit.
When she was a freshman at Brookhaven in 2008, Reggie Lee – who coached the girls basketball program for 30 years before retiring at the end of the 2010-11 season – encouraged Charletta to come out for the girls cross country team he was coaching at the time.

She ran middle distance as a freshman for the track team and ran cross country as a sophomore but was not able to compete in track as a sophomore after getting pregnant.

She delivered her son in May 2010. Her son's father, Deshawn Alston, finished second in the state in the 400 meters as a senior at Brookhaven in 2011.

"I've probably admired her as much as any athlete I've taught because of the obstacles she's had," Lee said. "She's never used anything as an excuse."

Charletta returned to competition last spring, and her father attended some of her track meets, she said.

June is among the athletes whose pictures hang on a wall at Brookhaven as recognition for being first-team all-state, an All-American or a professional athlete. His picture, according to Simmons, was something Charletta took note of when she was a freshman.

"When she first went to high school, she saw her dad on the wall of fame at Brookhaven and said she wanted to make that wall of fame someday," Simmons said. "I constantly remind her of that."

Last season, Charletta placed third in the 400 (1 minute, 0.64 seconds) and second in the long jump (15 feet, 8 3/4 inches) in the City League meet. She then was first in the long jump (16-5 3/4) and fifth in the 400 (59.8) in the district 2 meet. At the regional in the long jump, she settled for sixth (16-8 1/2).

Breaking through with a state appearance is among her biggest goals this season.

"Coach Lee has always been there right by my side," she said. "My mom has really been the only one that helps me out with her doing her job and watching my baby when I'm at school.

"My dad just tells me sometimes to not ever give up and just do your best. Every time he watches me (compete), I tend to do better."
Charletta has managed to carry a GPA of about 3.3 while raising her son and taking cosmetology courses at school.

Simmons watches her grandson in the morning while Charletta is at school and works a night job. Charletta works a part-time job as well.

"I'm very proud of my daughter," Simmons said. "She's a hard worker and she's always been on the honor roll. I just see a lot of determination in her."