A year ago, Jordan King had never tried the high jump. He now owns ODAC titles from both the indoor and outdoor seasons. (Photo by Wayne Gehman)

King Makes Amazing Jump to New Sport

When one door closed for Jordan King, another one didn’t exactly open for the 2010 Central Christian graduate.

It was more like the Eastern Mennonite University junior high jumped over the door that looked like it had blocked his days as a collegiate athlete.

In one of the more extraordinary examples of an athlete quickly picking up a new sport, a short time after King was told he wouldn’t see much playing time on the Royals’ basketball team he went out for track and became the Old Dominion Athletic Conference indoor and outdoor champion in the high jump. His season-best jump was 6-foot-6 1/4 inch, which was just 1 1-2 away from the school record.

And when I say “new sport” I mean completely new. King had never even dabbled in high jumping in middle school or high school.

“We didn’t have a track team at Central Christian or at Hesston College,” said the 6-foot-5 King, with the latter being a two-year college he played basketball at before continuing his schooling at Div. III Eastern Mennonite in Harrisonburg, Va.

King was a solid basketball player at Central Christian (averaging about 12 points and seven rebounds a game as a senior) and came to be known for his high-flying slam dunks at Hesston.

Unfortunately, dunking alone won’t win a spot on a college basketball team and the Royals told the walk-on that he wasn’t likely to play much.

“After it didn’t work out with basketball, I kind of accepted the fact that I was done playing a college sport and I thought I’d just find other stuff to do like intramurals,” King said. “One of the basketball assistants shared a cubicle with a track coach and told him that I could jump pretty well. The track coaches talked me into giving the high jump a try. There was no pressure — I just wanted to see how I’d do, enjoy myself and see what happens.”

King didn’t catch on right away to high jumping and couldn’t even clear the introductory height of 5-10 at his first indoor meet in December.

“I had a coach who had jumped at Appalachain State and had some real good experience to teach me,” said King, who competes in a league that also has schools such as Roanoke, Lynchburg and Bridgewater. “I was trying to just throw myself over the bar at first, but I learned to get some arch in my jump.”

This track season is over for King as he couldn’t quite reach the 6-8 height that would have likely qualified him for the Div. III NCAA Meet. The son of Glen and Judy King is still plenty busy this month, though, as right after finals the business administration major will go to South Korea for a cross-cultural school experience.

King will have a lot to reflect on when he finally gets some down time, but one word quickly comes to mind about his newfound sport.

“Perseverance,” King said. “At the beginning, (high jumping) was coming really slowly. I kind of toughed it out and it’s really worked out.”

It’s a lesson for life in general, if people keep an open mind and aren’t afraid of some hard work, success can be found in unexpected places.

Courtesy Wooster Daily Record, April 28, 2013