By Nicholas Vasquez
Jaye Washington is from Torrance, California, a small beach town in Southern California that is approximately 40 minutes away from Los Angeles. Instead of being loud and instilling his confidence through his words, he chooses to do it with his actions. Being a Division II athlete of any sort is definitely something that is worth bragging about, and Washington prefers to take the high road, which says a lot about him as a person.
A lot of football players coming into high school have their minds set on being under the bright lights of a Division I football stadium, but many do not realize their limitations until it is too late. They think that football is the only chance they have to get away, and as a freshman, Washington had this on his mind.
“When I was a freshman, I was football motivated,” he said. “My main sport was football.”
Going into high school track and field was an afterthought for him; but that would change. Washington started running track in the spring of his freshman year at North Torrance High School in order to stay in shape and better himself for football. Little did he know, track would become his niche not very long after. In about a year after joining the track team, he was placed on the varsity squad as a sophomore, and he never looked back from there.
“I started running track my freshman year just to stay in shape,” he said. “But towards my sophomore year I started making strides and ended up making varsity.”
Washington is an all-around athlete, as he played two sports during his time in high school and was versatile in both. He played running back and wide receiver in football, and in track he participated in the long jump and the triple jump. He has a long list of accolades in high school: 4th place at the Redondo Nike Invitational in 2014, 3rd place in the triple jump at the South Bay Championships in 2014, 2nd in long jump and 1st in triple jump at the Pioneer League Finals in 2014, 4th in long jump at the Louis Zamperini Meet in 2016, and 5th in long jump and 1st in triple jump at the South Bay Championships in 2016. The 19-year-old is not complacent with these accomplishments, however, as he looks to make his mark at HSU and add to an already impressive legacy.
“My main goal at HSU is to break the triple jump record,” Washington said. “I feel that if I continue to work hard and get extra work in, I have the opportunity to do it.”
Even then, he thought that track was just a cool sport to be good at, and he had not really thought about pursuing it at the collegiate level. This mindset is not uncommon, as track and field definitely does not possess the glamour or flash that football has, not only in high school but at the collegiate level as well. As a result, many high school student athletes over pursue football over the sport that they are just as good at (or even better at in some cases), track and field.
Track and field is not a contact sport, making size an unimportant component in it. Washington realized this towards the end of his high school career, as he started to perform better in track than he was in football, which caused him to think about the bigger picture and realize what his true calling was. Washington’s close friend and teammate, Mario Simpson, took notice to this as their high school careers progressed.
“Jaye was always a solid football player,” Simpson said. “But around our junior year I realized how good he was on the track.”
Simpson continued to explain how amazed he was with his buddy’s performance in track.
“I always knew Jaye was athletic,” he said. “But when I saw him on that track for the first time, I was thinking to myself, “Damn, that boy can move.””
Simpson is not the only person who noticed this talent, as he started to get recruited for track and field during his senior season. Humboldt State saw his talent, and the rest is history.
“Humboldt State has a great track and field program,” Washington said. “They are giving me the opportunity to succeed and I really appreciate that.”
Washington’s teammates have been noticing how his diligent work during and even before and after practice has taken his craft to the next level.
Fellow teammate Parker Irusta in particular has seen a big improvement from him.
“Jaye has been a huge asset to our team,” Irusta said. “He is a monster on the track, but it is his work before and after practice that really sets him apart from other people in his event.”
Work ethic is a big priority for Washington, on the track and off. He is not just going to college for athletics, as he is also looking to obtain a degree in Kinesiology. He says that as an athlete, he is interested in becoming a personal trainer in order to be able to work with athletes once he finally hangs up his spikes.
“Track is obviously a big priority for me at this point in my life,” he said. “But I need to have a backup plan and be prepared for when I am not going to be able to perform any more, so I want to continue to work in the field of sports in a different aspect.”