New Chapter!

Sports

New Chapter!

Former Rusea's High high jumper heads to Barton Community College

BY PAUL A REID
Observer West writer
reidp@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, August 06, 2020

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Former Rusea's High standout athlete Nia Robinson will start a new chapter in her life this weekend when she reports to Barton Community College in Great Bend, Kansas.

Robinson, the daughter of former Wadadah FC player Oneil “Zappa” Robinson, who hails from the Clarke Street area of Mt Salem, had migrated with her family earlier this year, missing her chance of competing at the County of Cornwall Athletics Association (COCAA) Western Champs.

At Barton, she will join a number of Jamaicans, including former Spot Valley High runner Tyrese Reid who was her teammate on the CARIFTA Games team last year.

“I'm very excited and thankful for the opportunity,” she told the Jamaica Observer West earlier this week.

“Knowing that I'm advancing to a higher level educationally and as an athlete, gives me the boost I need for my future, as Barton CC will improve on my athletic abilities and I will gain the necessary education that I need to be a successful individual,” added Nia, as she thanked those who had supported and helped her throughout high school.

“Special thanks to the Rusea's High family for the opportunities, my community, Clarke Street, family and friends,” said Robinson, who now resides with her family in New York.

Her journey to Barton was not the one she would have chosen, she noted, but due to a variety of circumstances outside of her control, Nia made the best of her options and chose to attend Barton CC.

The initial plan was to complete high school at Rusea's, while starting the process to matriculate to college, but her family migrated very early in the year and with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, her plans were out of the window, so to speak.

She was ineligible to get offers from NCAA schools but is still upbeat at the chance to attend and compete for one of the best junior colleges in the USA, forgoing a final year in high school.

“I was very depressed with the situation because I was positive I had the possibility to participate in the NCAA division,” Nia said.

“The moment coronavirus came and everything came falling apart and I knew I won't be able to be in Jamaica to take the necessary requirements, it even got worse when coaches started reaching out. However, I knew that I had to choose a well-polished JUCO (junior college) and then take it from there.”

Nia, who has personal best marks of 1.76m in the high jump and 5.96m in the long jump, knows she has big shoes to fill at Barton, but she says she is ready for the challenge.

“In my time here at Barton CC I am hoping to be known as one of those outstanding athletes that will represent this college to the best of my ability. I will ensure to do my best at each meet, carrying on the legacy of the past Barton athletes within the two years and choose the next best journey,” she argued.

Despite all that went wrong earlier this year, she says she would not change anything if she could.

“I wouldn't change anything about 2020, been away from normal training… the world had taught me a lot about self-motivation, which had me thinking and making a few adjustments. My only hope is to have the normal outside soon,” Nia said.

On the track, the lanky athlete said of the two events she has been outstanding in, the high jump is her favourite.

“It [high jump] teaches me a lot about real life, that no matter what obstacles I face I must always be determined, and concentrate on my goals, I say this to say, at one point I did not want to do high jump because I used to think the bar was too high and I would fall and I would probably break my arm or neck, but I overcame that fear by placing the high jump bar as an obstacle in my life that I must overcome. And I have improved a lot in the event after that,” she reasoned.

Nia started playing sports in primary school, like most others, and it was at Barracks Road Primary that she first realised that she had talent.

“I had started track and field in grade four when I ran the 400m at sports day and the coaches were impressed. From there, I went to Rusea's High where Coach Rodrick Myles furthered my jumping career,” she told the Observer West.

Talent alone was not enough though, she said, pointing out that “I knew I had talent from primary school because I was always dominating my events. However, as I get older I realised that it's not only about the talent, it's about the time and effort you put in, because I can be talented as many said, but training beats talent every day.”

Despite living and attending primary school in Montego Bay, Nia was placed at Rusea's High in Lucea after sitting the Grade Six Achievement Test exams, but despite the long commute, it worked out for her and her family.

“My twin brother encouraged me and he was like 'we both could go there and play sports',” she noted, adding that she knew that it was always his dream of playing football for Rusea's, and he got the chance to do that as well.

Asked to select a highlight from her high school days, she chose a team achievement rather than and individual one. “It's so much to choose from…I would say ISSA Boys' and Girls' championship 2019 when we came fifth in the girls' section. All my years at Rusea's, we where always placed between eighth to 10th, been at fifth was a feeling can't be explained…”

Making the team to the CARIFTA Games last year was a bright spot nonetheless.

“It was an overwhelming feeling to be in the black, green and gold representing my country, in such a huge crowd. It meant so much to me, it was a great experience, and I look forward for much more times like that,” said Nia.

The former Rusea's High student was fourth in the long jump at the CARIFTA Games and five days later she placed fifth in the same event at the Penn Relays.

She noted that while track and field is her best event, she had participated in other sports.

“Yes, I did compete for Barracks Road Primary in both netball and basketball. In addition, I played a few netball competitions at Rusea's—in house competitions— and I really enjoy playing that game,” she told the Observer.

If track and field had not worked out, she said, “the route would be netball, because of my height and body structure.”

“Whenever I'm on the street random people would be like 'how you tall, you must play basketball or netball or 'you are a netballer, right?', 'from me see you mi know you play netball' and even when I said, 'No', they would try continue to convince me, but as soon as I said I'm a jumper they were pleased with the respond.”

The avid fan of track and field says she is inspired by several athletes both locally and internationally— all jumpers. They include World championships and Commonwealth Games silver medallist Shanieka Ricketts and former Kingston College jumper Wayne Pinnock.

“Knowing most of the attention isn't spent on the jumping area, you would see highlights mostly about on the track event, and Shanieka even stated in an interview 'why fix what is not broken?' These athletes are doing a great job of making the jumps appealing for young athletes and despite Pinnock's age, he had inspired me and a lot more young athletes,” said Nia.

Internationally, she says Sweden's Khadijatou Victoria Sagnia is a favourite. “Sagnia is an outstanding athlete, who has a career outside track and field, but still manages to take time to prefect her craft in long jump, and her athletic career on a whole, she remains me so much of myself and who I'm becoming,” she said.


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