FAST BUT NOT SO FURIOUS: Southmoore Sprinter Says Calm Mind is Key to Blazing SpeedMay 16, 2021
UPDATE: Jada Atkinson took 1st place in the 100m dash and 200m dash at this year's 6A state track meet.
When Jada Atkinson is settling into the blocks for the start of a 100 or 200-meter race, you might think that she’s emotionally wired to explode. Just the opposite is true.
“I’m usually saying a prayer,” says Atkinson. “That’s because, for me, the challenge is to calm down my butterflies, which are usually going crazy at that point. So, I find that I am at my best when I’m able just to relax.”
It’s a technique that has worked well for the Southmoore senior. She won the 200-meter state title as a sophomore and is one of the favorites in both the 200 and 100 in this month’s state meet. As she and her Sabercat teammates prepare for regionals and state this year, Atkinson says she’s just grateful that they’re able to have a season.
“It was so heartbreaking not having a season last year because of the pandemic,” said Atkinson, “I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from that is to not take anything for granted because it can be taken away in a moment.”
People coped with the cancellation of the 2020 springs sports season in different ways. Atkinson turned her disappointment and frustration into an offseason of hard work.
“It taught me to be even more disciplined,” said Atkinson. “I just didn’t want to miss any opportunities, so I felt it was important to continue to work out and work hard to improve myself. It also helped that I had the resources to work out, and I think that has helped me improve this season.”
At least some of Atkinson’s work ethic can be traced to her parents. Her father, Shannon, is the track coach at Southmoore. He and his wife, Jennifer, were both All-American athletes at OU. Atkinson says that while they never pressured her to follow in their footsteps, they challenge her to strive for the best in competition and the classroom.
“I remember going to meets at OU and seeing their pictures up in the indoor facilities,” said Atkinson. “But they allowed me to play multiple sports without any pressure. I liked basketball but decided to focus on track my sophomore year because I wanted to have that full-on track experience.”
That decision has paid off for Atkinson in every way. Not only is she having the time of her life in a sport that she loves, but she will also be following in her parents’ footsteps at OU, committing to join the Sooner track team for her collegiate career. She says the decision to commit to OU was a bit hard but the right move.
“In the end, it just boiled down to the familiarity of OU,” said Atkinson. “I grew up around it, and it feels like a second home walking around campus. I also like that it’s just down the road from my parents, so I’m never that far away.”
In the meantime, she’s focused on enjoying the last weeks of her senior year and making up for a lost 2020 track season.
“My goals on the track are simply to stay healthy and defend my 200 title,” said Atkinson. “I’m not sure yet what other events I’ll be running, but I’m looking to improve in every area.”
As she goes through these final weeks of tuning up, Atkinson says she feels like she’s peaking at just the right time.
“I ran a 24 in the 200 recently, and that’s a PR (personal record),” said Atkinson. “That made me realize that I’m right where I need to be. I can tell my body is ready to go past that.”
While her focus on the athletic side of life is razor-sharp these days, that doesn’t mean she’s not paying attention to the life away from the track. Atkinson says she’s relishing her final weeks as a Sabercat senior. It helps that her mother does an excellent job of helping her keep her eyes on her classwork.
“My mom is a strong woman who is big on schoolwork,” said Atkinson. “She keeps me in line, especially on those days when I come home, and I don’t want to do my classwork. Both she and my dad are so strong, but also so loving and caring. I’m just so blessed by them.”
She also wants people to know that her younger sister, Jordan, will make some waves of her own at Southmoore.
“She’s going to be a pretty great long jumper,” said Atkinson. “I think that she has already jumped something like 17-feet-11-inches. I honestly think she could be getting close to 20-feet by her senior year.”
When the speedster does relax, she might find herself enjoying her favorite television shows on the Home and Garden channel.
“I love HGTV,” said Atkinson. “I enjoy watching those shows where they flip or redo houses because it’s fun to imagine what I would do in those situations or what it would be like that have that house to work on.”
Atkinson is planning on staying connected to sports after college, perhaps pursuing a career in sports management or physical therapy. She says her biggest goal is to either own or run a sports team. She intends to savor every moment of her last few weeks of high school and her time with her friends for the present moment.
“I’ve loved everything about being at Southmoore and being a Sabercat,” said Atkinson. “I’ve had great friends and teachers, and I just want to remember these times and all those wonderful moments.”