News - Long Jump, Long Shot

Long Jump, Long Shot

by Carla Morris Long Jump, Long Shot

Push hard out the back. Keep low at first and drive each foot down. Accelerate, raise your head and stand tall. Focus on the turnover of your feet and explode when you push off the board. 

Long jumper Jarrid Williams ’17 had approached the jump pit countless times before, but never with this new insight about the physics behind gaining distance.

Be aggressive. Drive the quad down; be the force; be the cause, not the reaction . . . control, patience and flight.

The epiphany came courtesy of Chris Easley ’09, jump coach for the Panther track team. Easley developed Jarrid’s athletic skills in ways Jarrid never thought possible, and Jarrid repaid Easley with excellent performance.

“I was Coach E’s first athlete to jump over seven meters,” he recalls, the first athlete Easley would coach all the way to a national meet.

Loose Cannon, Long Shot For Success

Today, Jarrid is a graduate assistant at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville pursuing a master’s in social work. The runway and sandpit no longer find a place in his daily routine, but Easley’s influence, like the influence of Head Track and Field Coach Brian Patton, stays with him. Jarrid, a self-described long shot for success, marvels at the distances they helped him achieve.

“There were a lot of negative influences in my life,” he recalls, recounting a forced move from hurricane-ravaged New Orleans to Atlanta when he was 12, a year’s stay in a hotel and a father who was in and out of the picture.

“I was real aggressive,” he says. “I couldn’t control my anger.”

The anger accompanied him to Greenville, where he established a reputation as a loose cannon. He remembers thinking at one point, “Somebody’s going to get hurt.”

That was when Jarrid requested twice-weekly Bible studies with Patton. 

Jarrid JumpingDeveloping More Than Skills 

Together, they dug into the Book of James with its “tell it like it is” wisdom about the fiery tongue and controlling anger. Later he trusted Easley too, with concerns that transcended track: “How do I grow?” “How do I be a man?” “How can I use words to paint a vivid picture of my experience so others will understand it?” “How can I learn to work with people when we disagree on issues?”

Conversations flowed; transformation followed.

Advance With a Master’s in Coaching

Jarrid’s story exemplifies the mix of character and skill development that distinguishes Greenville University’s approach to athletics, including its master’s in coaching program. Now in its sixth year, the all-online program helps coaches recruit effectively, manage games, administer programs and shape character as well as performance. A spiritual dimension permeates the curriculum.

“We’re trying to get people to think about priorities of coaching so that coaches can stay long term [and] build a legacy that really truly is about building character,” says Doug Faulkner, professor of sport and kinesiology.

Participants benefit from the faith aspect, even when districts and policies prevent them from delivering an overtly Christian message, says Professor George Barber. Speaking from 20 years’ experience engaging 1,500 youth each summer in basketball camps, he adds that parents and school administrators also appreciate the approach.

“You have to get your master’s if you’re going to advance,” says Barber. “It’s almost the status quo these days . . . If you need to and you want to advance, this is a great place to do it.” 

To learn more about Greenville University’s master’s in coaching program, contact Shannan Bernico,

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Jarrid gratefully received donor-funded scholarships to help pay for school. Your gift today can help young student athletes like Jarrid find the character-shaping education they need.

This story was published on September 26, 2017

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