Immani Jackson is one of many talented young local athletes participating in Detroit PAL’s Track and Field programs. She has excelled among her peers in virtually every event offered, however these notable athletic strides of accomplishment were not always a part of Immani’s own ideal childhood vision.
Thanks to the support of her mother, last year Immani took the opportunity to participate in her first ever PAL Track competition. “She said ‘It seems like this might be something fun’ ” recalls Mrs. Jackson, as her daughter had never been a part of any Track and Field program prior to her involvement with PAL Athletics.
Unbeknownst to Mrs. Jackson and her family, the first PAL competition that Immani would be enrolled in would coincidentally be the regional qualifier for the United States Junior Olympics. “To us it was just a track meet, we had no idea how important it really was in the big picture” said Immani.
Not only did the sixth grader outperform her opponents, but much to her surprise, she would go on to win, qualifying for the 2013 US Junior Olymipics. “I thought.. ‘Yeah I qualified’, then I thought wait, ‘what did I just do?’” admitted Jackson.
When given the appropriate outlet, Immani’s true inner competitor emerged. Mrs. Jackson vividly recalls one instance during an event where her daughter left feeling as though she failed to give her ‘best effort’. After gaining her composure, Immani addressed her mother, “She looked me straight in the eyes and said ‘Mom that will never happen again’ “.
Immani admits her favorite event is simply the ‘100 meter dash’, due in large part to the adrenaline rush that accompanies the raw nature of challenging your own perceived limitations. “It is a true test, how fast can you actually run? I like that.”
Her greatest improvement however comes in an event she reveals placing the least amount of personal emphasis upon, the long jump. Jackson still managed to earn the gold medal this season by smashing her own personal best, posting an impressive ’14 ft, a two and a half foot improvement from one year ago.
This young career continues to evolve at an impressive rate. At the season’s Track and Field Championships, she earned a total of four gold medals. Seldom do you see such accomplished youth athletes with such respect for fundamentals of sports and understanding of the importance of coach-ability. Immani told PAL, “Coach Kenebrill said – ‘this is what you need to do to be successful’ and I really just try do to that” .
Through her training with Detroit PAL, Immani uses helpful tricks by setting mental goals, “Coach Mike Bradley has always been a really big supporter of mine”, she said. Identifying visual checkpoints along each track she runs allow her to adjust energy consumption accordingly. “It makes it a lot easier when I can turn a corner and know that when I hit that flag up there, I can go all out.”