Editor's Note: Two students are featured in this week's article.
Eighteen feet. That’s the distance Jamelia Johnson wants to traverse in the long jump.
Johnson, 17, is a senior at Passaic County Technical Institute. Johnson, a Paterson native, and her three teammates won the 4 by 100-meter relay at the Passaic County Relays recently. Johnson participates in other relay events in addition to the long jump.
Trust, Johnson said, is an integral part of being part of a relay team.
“Normally, track and field sports are individual events, but relays really push you because you are working together as a team,” Johnson said. “If one person is a little slow or off on their run, then it can affect the entire team and your teammates will have to make up the difference.”
Johnson said she has learned a lot since running track.
“Track has taught me a lot and has given me a lot of character. I never really took my schoolwork seriously, then I started running track,” Johnson said. “I learned how to push myself. If you can run 400 meters as hard as you can, you can write papers and study as hard as you can. I’m much more disciplined than I used to be.”
Succeeding in the long jump requires discipline. Technique is important. There’s an art to it.
“You run with your back and posture as straight as you can make them. The straighter you are, the higher you are going to go in the air,” Johnson said. “Knowing and remembering the technique is important.”
Johnson will attend St. Peter’s College in Jersey City in the fall. She has received academic and athletic scholarships.
Johnson said she knows how much how much she has matured as a person because of track, but that is only the beginning.
“As I keep trying to reach 18 feet, I know that I’m really the only one who is limiting my own success. I know I can do it. Just like now I know I can do anything I set out to do. I have my parents, my track coach, and my parents to thank for that.”
Ryan Carroll, DePaul Catholic High School
It has been said that catchers often make the best baseball managers. If that is the case, then maybe Ryan Carroll will be in a dugout in the major leagues one day.
“Catcher is a position that emphasizes defense and you have to always be aware of what’s going on around you. As a catcher, you’re always thinking and you’re always thinking ahead as to what’s going to happen,” Carroll said. “As a hitter, you really try not to think. With hitting, it’s more like you think before you go up to the plate and figure out the pitcher’s tendencies.”
Being a catcher fits with the way Carroll thinks.
“I always like to plan and schedule what I’m going to do. I’m excellent with managing my time,” Carroll said. “I always have a plan; everything comes down to having a plan. You’ve got to be able to react to what is going on around you.”
It is similar to the way he approaches attempting to get a hitter out. He needs to call the correct pitches.
“It’s like a cat and mouse game,” Carroll said. “I like calling my own pitches because when you’re up there you can see what the hitter is trying to do.”
Just like in life. But with baseball, being successful is defined as having a .300 average or failing seven out of 10 times. Caroll, a New York Yankees fan, said he likes the way Joe Mauer plays: tough, all the time.
Carroll will attend Fordham University in the fall. He plans to major in business. He received a partial athletic scholarship.
“Baseball teaches you to cope with failure and learning from your mistakes so you can be successful the next time you go up to the plate,” Carroll said.