Shining Stars: Sydney Jackson

by Matt Cosentino; Photos Tim Hawk | Apr 28, 2015
Shining Stars: Sydney Jackson …From the pages of South Jersey Magazine…

Sydney Jackson, Eastern track and field
One of the top sprinters in South Jersey, Jackson has placed in the top 10 at states in the 200 meters each of the last two years. Also a standout in the 100 and the long jump, she is looking to close out her career with a strong senior season.

SJM: Are you excited to get outside for the spring season after a long indoor season?
SJ: Yes, I am excited, except for the cold. The rest of the season should go pretty well. When it gets warmer out, we all get excited.

SJM: You’ve already had an outstanding career. What’s on your to-do list for your final season at Eastern?
SJ: My biggest goal is to go for English Gardner’s 200 record [at Eastern] and I’m not too far off. The record is 24-flat and my best time is 25.2, so a lot of hard work and dedication will hopefully get me there.

SJM: English Gardner is now one of the top sprinters in the world. Do you know her at all?
SJ: She was before me at Eastern but I have met her a few times. She’s been to some of our practices.

SJM: You have another talented sprinter on the team in Melanie Edwards. What’s it like having a strong competitor like that to push you and are the two of you close?
SJ: Yeah, we’re close. She pushes me a lot and I push her. That makes both of us stronger.

SJM: How old were you when you got involved in track?
SJ: I started when I was in second grade but I wasn’t really into it that much. I continued to play soccer, and then I started back up with track in middle school. When I got to high school is when I really got serious about track, even though it was still my second sport behind soccer. The end of my sophomore year is when I knew I wanted to pursue track in the future.

SJM: How old were you when you realized you were a lot faster than other girls your age?
SJ: I realized at an early age from playing soccer, but I wasn’t really in the track world yet.

SJM: You also do the long jump. Do you have the same love for that event that you do for the sprints?
SJ: That’s just something I do. I haven’t really been focusing on it a lot the past couple of seasons. But when I do it, I try to do my best in it.

SJM: How do you prepare for a big race? Is there a routine you stick to or certain music you listen to before the race to get in the right mindset?
SJ: I have a playlist for myself and I listen to it before every big meet. It has Migos, Kendrick Lamar, people like that. Then we do a warmup and I do some of my own stretches that help me personally. That helps me get even more ready for whatever event I’m competing in.

SJM: Have you made your college decision yet?
SJ: Yes, I will be attending Hampton University in Virginia. I was looking at Rutgers as well for track, but my running style wasn’t really progressing the way I wanted it to, and I wasn’t getting scholarship offers. So I got into both schools, but I got an academic scholarship to Hampton, and I’ll also be a fourth-generation [student] at Hampton, so that made my decision easier.

SJM: So it’s a family tradition. Did you grow up hearing about Hampton?
SJ: Yes I did, and I’ve been there many times. My mom went there, my dad and his twin brother, my grandmom, her other two sisters, and her parents also went.

SJM: Do you plan on running track in college?
SJ: I plan on walking on, that sort of thing.

SJM: Do you think it’s going to be weird not playing soccer in the fall?
SJ: It will be weird, but it might be fortunate for me because Hampton is actually just starting a soccer program. Obviously, they won’t be as prestigious as some other schools, but it will be something where I can still play and be able to have fun. So I might do that if the program does start next season.

SJM: What was it like to be part of a dominant girls soccer program at Eastern?
SJ: I loved it. The girls were amazing, we’re all really close. We all pushed each other and it wasn’t just a one-person team. Everybody puts in their all and contributes in one way or another, whether they’re a big star or coming off the bench.

SJM: Do you have a similar group in track?
SJ: The girls this year are really hard-working as well, so I think we can get pretty far.

SJM: What will you miss most about going to school at Eastern?
SJ: Definitely my teams. They’re like my sisters, we’re all a family. We talk every day, and not just at school or practice; we’re always talking on the phone and helping each other with different situations. We’re all really close so I’ll miss them the most.

SJM: What are your interests aside from sports?
SJ: I took one class in photography and I really liked it. I didn’t expect to like it, but it was actually a lot of fun, just being able to go into a darkroom and see how pictures develop. It was different than a basic art class with paints and stuff, which I’m not personally good at.

SJM: Do you know what you want to study in college?
SJ: I want to study sports management, maybe with a minor in business or finance. I want to work some way with professional athletes.

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 1 (April, 2015).
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Author: Matt Cosentino; Photos by Tim Hawk

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