Rob Potter | Democrat
BETSY CONATY, LEFT, who is the Director of the Village of Monticello Parks and Recreation Department, congratulates Shane Jackson of Monticello for earning a spot at this week’s Jr. Olympic Skills Competition in Chicago. Pictured with them are Shane’s family members. They are, from left to right, Renee Jackson, Seth Jackson, Shaun Jackson and Steve Jackson.
Jackson grasping at Olympic rings
By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO Shane Jackson and his parents, Steve and Renee Jackson, will travel to Chicago on Thursday for an elite athletic competition.
Although he is a little nervous about his first trip on an airplane, 13-year-old Shane Jackson is excited about the opportunity. He will join 71 other boys and girls between the ages of 8 and 13 from around the nation for the U.S. Jr. Olympic Skills Competition, which is the official youth skills competition of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).
Shane Jackson and his fellow outstanding young athletes will be competing in one of four sports: basketball, soccer, tennis and track and field.
The 72 athletes qualified for the national event after winning local and regional competitions. More than 1.7 million boys and girls participated in the local competitions held back in April.
Jackson qualified in the track and field division at the May 17 regional event held in Monticello. Athletes from several counties in the Hudson Valley traveled to Monticello to compete that day.
Jackson posted a time of 6.82 seconds in the 50-meter dash and had a mark of 8 feet, 10 inches in the two-legged broad jump.
“I’m excited,” he said of competing at the national event. “That’s the nice thing about athletics, you can always work harder and do better.
“I would like to have a jump of more than nine feet,” Jackson continued. “And hopefully I can get a faster time in the run.”
Village of Monticello Parks and Recreation Department Director Betsy Conaty coordinated the local and regional competitions here in Sullivan County. She is very pleased that Jackson qualified for the national competition.
“To have someone like Shane, who is local and has a tremendous family, going to nationals is very exciting,” Conaty said.
Steve Jackson is very appreciative of Conaty’s work with the Jr. Olympic Skills Competition and other youth athletic endeavors. He praised Conaty and the Village of Monticello Department of Parks and Recreation for offering so many positive activities. He noted that the Monticello community needs these programs which promote good behavior and good health when there are so many negative things kids can become involved with, such as drugs and violence.
Of course, Steve and Renee Jackson, who are also the proud parents of two other sons, 10-year-old Shaun and 5-month-old Seth, are very pleased with Shane and his accomplishments.
“A lot of times when Shane does something good, he has a poker face and you can’t tell how he really feels,” Steve Jackson said. “But with this, he’s very excited and you can see it.”
Steve Jackson said that officials from the Jr. Olympic Skills Competition called the family’s home several times in recent weeks. The first three times it was to inform the family that Shane’s scores in the basketball, soccer and tennis events were not high enough for him to advance to nationals.
“But when they called the fourth time and asked us to call back, I knew it was something good,” Steve Jackson said.
Indeed it was.
Since discovering he will be facing the best of the best in Chicago, Shane Jackson has been working out for 20 to 25 minutes four days a week.
While he is a hard-working, determined young man, it’s clear that Shane Jackson also inherited a great deal of athletic ability from his parents. When they were children, Steve and Renee Jackson both took gymnastics lessons from Coach Pedro “Pete” Tweed of the Monticello Gymnastics Club.
In addition, they were both accomplished athletes at Monticello High School.
Renee competed in several sports, including track and field, basketball, soccer and volleyball. Steve concentrated on track and field, especially the shot put. He was a Section IX shot put champion and competed in the event at the Eastern States championship meet and the Empire State Games.
Shane, who will enter the eighth grade at Robert J. Kaiser Middle School in September, would like to have a sports-related career. He said he would like to be a sports manager.
In addition to his track and field talent, Shane served as captain of the Monticello modified soccer and baseball teams during the 2007-2008 academic year.
While he is a gifted athlete, Shane also excels in the classroom and participates in many other extracurricular activities.
For example, this spring, he was inducted into the National Honor Society. And in October, Shane will attend the National Young Leaders State Conference (NYLSC) in Syracuse. The conference honors and recognizes elite middle school students for their scholastic achievement and leadership potential. Each of the students who attend the NYLSC must be nominated by a teacher or selected based upon extraordinary academic achievement. Shane was nominated by Karen Atack, a physical education teacher at Robert J. Kaiser Middle School.
Shane is also a member of the Kaiser Middle School band, jazz band and chorus.