By Susan Jenior
The second Wheelchair Track and Field clinic for middle school and high school students with a permanent disability, as well as parents and coaches, was hosted by Jennifer Fesemyer, an alumnus of Southeast High School, in conjunction with the Ohio High School Athletic Association and Columbus Parks and Recreation last week.
Students were encouraged to bring their own equipment, but additional racing and throwing equipment was provided.
The students had the opportunity to learn about adaptive sports in track and field. Several athletes took advantage of the opportunity to hone their skills, while others worked hard to discover their capabilities for the first time.
Fesemyer is an accomplished Paralympic athlete, starting her amazing trek to the world stage at Southeast as an athlete winning four state championships in all of the wheelchair division competitions in three consecutive years: 100 meter, shot put, 800 meter and 400 meter.
Following her historic high-school career, she competed for the University of Illinois Urbana, won a gold and silver medal at the 2019 Parapan American games in Lima, Peru and represented the United States at the Paralympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Still competing, Jenna is a member of the U.S. Paralympics Track and Field 2024 National Team and enjoys sharing her knowledge with future and current adapted athletes.
In Columbus last weekend, the 12-time OHSAA state champion trained athletes already competing in high-school events, including Milena Sobie of Streetsboro as they strive toward their goals, as well as providing valuable information and training to new and future wheelchair athletes.
“I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to host the 2nd annual OHSAA and Columbus Recreation and Parks Wheelchair Track and Field Clinic,” said Fesemyer.
She offered her appreciation to the volunteers, as well as the support locally of Running Ritchies Sporting Goods in Tallmadge for donating shirts to the athletes and volunteers.
Fesemyer thanked the participants as well.
“We greatly appreciate the opportunity to teach you all a little more about wheelchair racing, shot put, strength and conditioning and more,” said Fesemyer.
The athletes also received a wealth of information, including weight-training strategies, places to purchase equipment and nutrition.
Cindy Fesemyer, longtime track coach and her daughter’s coach in high school, also helped at the workshop, offering that it was a wonderful experience for coaches, volunteers and athletes alike.
“The smiles on the faces in the pics and the hard work displayed by athletes tells the story,” she said.
Also attending the clinic and helping was former OHSAA Executive Director, Dan Ross, and current OHSAA commissioner Bob Goldring.
Fesemyer is currently working toward a Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, while also training for future competitions.