Sports Track

Elite-level athlete eager to instruct at IHS

Ignacio Track & Field boys’ head coach John Gurule (left) strategizes with recently graduated thrower Natoni Cundiff during the 2018 season. Coaching aids any athlete’s success, and IHS will welcome one at the end of July for a special jumper-oriented summer camp.
Photo Credit: Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

Jumpers Camp to feature Olympic hopeful

Tenth-best at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, and a Team USA hopeful for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, West Texas A&M University high jump coach Susan Jackson will be the featured instructor at Ignacio High School’s upcoming Jumpers Camp.

Originally from Napa, Calif., Jackson scored the 2012 NCAA Division II National Outdoor Championship – as a Western State Colorado University junior – in the high jump with a 5-foot, 11.5-inch best inside CSU-Pueblo’s Neta & Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl.

“I am always excited to be back in Colorado; it’s a beautiful place with prime summer weather,” she said Thursday afternoon, July 12.  “I don’t get the chance to go back often enough.”

“When I was at Western, I helped out at the summer camps they put on as well as helped run a camp through the rec center for kids 5-16,” she continued.  “I loved doing it … look forward to getting back into it!”

“I just happened to contact her,” said John Gurule, the Bobcat boys’ head coach, “and she was open to doing it!  She’s familiar to the area, an alumnus from Western … in Gunnison, and just recently took eighth place [clearing 5’10”] at the USATF Championships about three weeks ago.”

Scheduled for July 31 and August 1, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day, attendees ranging from sixth grade to college-grade can expect to learn drills, strategies, and skill work to advance their performances to the next level.

“Not many coaches know correct drills or correct biomechanics of each event to help individuals tap into their full potential,” Jackson said.  “The primary focus is getting them a correct approach and feeling even if it is only for one to two days.  Once you have the correct approach you can focus on biomechanics and how to fix the smaller things to help them.”

“It mostly depends on what level the athlete is at; if they just need polishing or if they are just starting out,” she noted.  “Same with coaches; it will depend on how much they know about programming and drill knowledge.”

From her track-and-field start through the Napa Track Club at age nine, up through the past four years as an elite-level athlete, Jackson emphasized external lesson and internal drive as being equal essentials for success.

“I’ve had many coaches in my past, but a few stick out and how they were willing to coach me – I wasn’t the easiest; I was a major head case ­and they helped me realize my true potential,” she recalled.  “I go into each meet preparing myself, going over the feeling of each movement I make and how it should look.  I try not to look at the past … unless it is film for my ‘mental game.’”

And through coaching others, she’s always looking for more footage.

“When I see someone I’m assisting doing what I’m doing wrong, it not only helps … what I say,” said Jackson, a member of Teams RunGum and Zensah, “but mentally I hear my own corrections and it forces me to go over them with the athlete ­ kind of like a ‘double’ practice.”

“Each athlete may hear the same thing, but in different ways,” she added.  “It’s all about communication and what clicks to trigger the athlete to do what you’re asking.

“The common denominator is always confidence level.  They may have the ability to be great, but it may hide because they have no confidence in themselves.  Coaching is something that helps … break that mental issue.”

That is to say, break it down to build them up.

“We’re really excited for it,” Gurule stated.  “We have had people sign up from Kirtland, to Bloomfield, Cortez … It’s a great chance for the community, and hopefully will fill a void. Everything’s going really good, and everybody’s working really hard preparing,” he continued.  “We’re looking forward to continuing ‘the grind’ and preparing for next season!”

Priced at $50 per athlete, $25 per coach, registration can be done in person at the event or via a special PayPal link:  Lunch will be served both days, and a trainer will also be available.  Additional questions can be directed to Gurule via e-mail at or or phone 970-946-8080.



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