By DIEGO LOZANO III
Former Pima Community College track athlete Jason Holley considers himself very fortunate to still be involved with the sport he loves.
Holley, a 2002 graduate of Santa Rita High School, had many prolific performances during his two-year stint at PCC. They ultimately landed him an athletic scholarship to Adams State University (Colo.).
An injury-filled season at Adams State eventually marked the end of Holley’s days as a competitive jumper. He came back to Tucson to further pursue his education at the University of Arizona.
With his competing days as an athlete far behind him, Holley admitted the adjustment of solely committing his time and effort to school wasn’t a feasible task.
“All I was doing was working and going to school five or six days a week, and it just wasn’t fun,” he said. “One day I just wasn’t feeling it anymore.”
Holley said being out on the track was all he had known since junior high, and he felt a void in his life. The feeling eventually led to him temporarily dropping out of school.
“I look at it as a bad decision, but it kind of helped me out in a way,” he said. “I had to find something.”
That came in the form of a former Pima teammate, who caught up with Holley in a class at UA before his decision to drop out.
Marcos Blanco, then an assistant track coach at Sunnyside High School, strongly urged Holley to join the staff as a jumps coach. From there, Holley was introduced to a whole different life on the track.
“I liked it, you know. It filled the void of when I wasn’t going to practice,” he said. “I was able to go help people out, but at the same time it was hard for me to tell these kids to go to college when I dropped out, so that made me go back and finish up.”
From there, Holley adopted a new role on and off the track, and he hasn’t looked back.
After coaching at Sunnyside for six years, he moved to his current position training kids at Tucson High Magnet School.
Holley also credits the lack of a coaching figure during his high school days as a stimulus for him guiding younger athletes through their everyday tribulations.
“I was used to not having coaches around; nothing went through my head,” he said. “I was just lucky I was naturally gifted. I got by on athleticism alone.”
Holley doesn’t only aim for his athletes to improve on the track. More importantly, he places emphasis on developing their character away from the sport.
“You want them to come out of the season a better person, not just an athlete. I mean, anyone can develop an athlete,” he said. “Having them the same person as the beginning of the season, in my head, that’s not making much progress.”
Holley attributes his personal development to his coaching experiences.
“It helped me learn to deal with different people,” he said. “I can’t just be set on my ways and expect everyone to jump on-board with me.”
Coaching or not, Holley says his passion for the sport will never die. That serves as a testament to his character and his genuine, heartfelt dedication to teaching the young athletes of tomorrow.