Where are they Now…Jackie Below

Jackie Below

We recently caught up with former LCCC Student-Athlete and NJCAA National Champion in the 100m and 200m, Jackie Below. Jackie will be the first of our former athletes featured in our new “Where are they Now” series. Thank you, Jackie for all your contributions to LCCC and all you continue to do in Lorain County!

Track & Field, Women’s Basketball

Major: Business (1977-1979)
Hometown/High School: Elyria, OH/Elyria
Four-Year School: Prairie View A&M University

What are you up to these days?

I have been employed by Elyria City Schools as an Educational Transition Paraprofessional for the past 33 years. I am also the current head girls’ varsity track coach at Elyria High. A position I have held for 29 years. I have two daughters and six grandchildren. I was also a foster parent to many over the span of 10 years.

Did you continue your education or playing career at a four-year college?
I received a scholarship to continue running at Prairie View A&M University.

What are some honors you/your team earned at LCCC (athletically/academically)?
Basketball: co-captain of the basketball team
Track: NJCAA National Champion in the 100m and 200m. Earned All-American status
LCCC Deans list

Why did you choose LCCC?
I chose LCCC because I wanted to continue my education. This time period was really the infancy of women’s sports so there was not a lot of options to compete after high school so when I found out LCCC had a basketball team I knew I wanted to tryout. Track was not even on my radar until I was approached by Coach Jack Wilhelm. I thought he was joking because LCCC didn’t even have a track to practice on.

How do you think LCCC prepared you for life or for what you are currently doing?
LCCC helped me mature. At the time I did not appreciate what a great institution we had right in our own backyard. I had many great professors that not only taught academic lessons but life lessons as well.

What challenges (if any) did you face as a student-athlete? What lessons did you learn?
Being a sprinter and training without a track was definitely challenging but Coach Wilhelm would not let us use that as an excuse. He was creative with our workouts and taught us to adjust to whatever life threw at us. He was such a great motivator.

Were there any obstacles you had to overcome as an athlete or in life?
One of the biggest obstacles I had to overcome was fear. On the eve that I was to leave for Nationals Coach Wilhelm informed me that he would not be making the trip with me because his wife was gravely ill at the time and he need to be with her. Though I totally understood, I was terrified. He explained to me that his job was done. He said the training was complete and now it was up to me to dig down within myself and find the strength to finish what we worked so hard to accomplish.