High school junior Camille Brand never intended to be a track star. She reluctantly joined the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School team as a sophomore after being encouraged by her dad to stay in shape for soccer, the sport she had been playing since she was five years old. 

Now a year later, with a personal record high jump of 5 feet, 4 inches, Camille is training for the national tournament. 

“Jumping 5’4” was just crazy,” Camille said, during a break from track practice this week. “I had been working toward it for so long. I just started crying on the mat.”

The New Balance Nationals Indoor Track and Field Championships take place March 7 to 10 in Boston. 

Camille joined the track team last year as a runner but was persuaded by coach Joe Schroeder to test out the high jump. At 5 feet, 8 inches tall, she appeared perfect for the event, said Mr. Schroeder. 

“It’s usually based on a person’s build or height,” said Mr. Schroeder. “I just said to her, ‘Hey, amuse me and flop over this.’”

Camille took the leap but was unconvinced. Petrified on the eve of her first meet, she nearly talked herself into ditching the competition. 

“I was freaking out and actually wasn’t going to show up,” Camille recalled. “I’d never really jumped over a bar before, and after practicing it just one time I just didn’t think I liked it.”

Screwing up her courage, Camille won the meet with a jump of 4 feet, 4 inches, and was hooked. She quit soccer to focus on track, practicing six times a week. She runs off-season with the cross country team, also coached by Mr. Schroeder, to keep up her stamina. 

Last year, Camille attended the New Balance Nationals as a competitor in the rising star division, which has a lower qualifying bar height of 5 feet and is primarily for underclassmen. 

This year’s championship, she said, feels like a whole new game. 

“I’m focusing now on just improving my form,” she said. “It’s really complicated because there’s so many steps. You can’t just be fast. You have to have a perfect curved run-up and a perfect jump — knees up and arched over your legs, head snapped back.... There’s just so much to take into account.”

“High jumps are unique because it always ends in failure,” added Mr. Schroeder. “You hit the bar eventually, even the winner. And if you improve by just a quarter of an inch, you’re beating a personal record.”

Mr. Schroeder said that just qualifying for the New Balance Nationals and jumping 5 foot, 4 inches opens up a lot of post-high school opportunities. If Camille wants to join a college track team, he said, she may be recruited. 

In Boston, she will be competing against high jumpers from all over the country. She gives credit for her meteoric rise to her dad and Mr. Schroeder.

“My dad has been mind blown for every step of the way,” she said. “And I would have never signed up on my own had it not been for [Mr. Schroeder]. He’s incredibly motivational, and now I love doing this.”