Pickering’s Kerwin Jackson running with the Dragons at Tiffin

Pickering High School graduate gets scholarship to university in Ohio

PICKERING -- Kerwin Jackson is another fine example of the eye the late Cyril Sahadath had for talented track athletes.

The legendary coach stopped a young Jackson in the halls of Pickering High School one day and suggested he come out for the track team. Having been cut from the school’s soccer team, track wasn’t anywhere on Jackson’s radar.

“I tried out for the school soccer team and didn’t make it. I was walking the hall one day and Cyril saw me and said, ‘You should come out for track.’ I was like, track? I never really thought of track as its own sport before. I never really considered it until he brought it up to me,” he recalls.

Four years later, after graduating from high school, Jackson has made the transition into university, earning a Division II scholarship to Tiffin University in Ohio. He hopes to be running the 400m and 400m hurdles for the Dragons.

The Pickering resident started out as a soccer player in the local club, but in Grade 11, he went to a practice with the Pickering-based Speed Academy headed by former Olympic sprinter Tony Sharpe. He joined, working on reducing his times on the track and increasing his marks in the classroom.

“Tony was really pushing the idea of education with the track career. He was saying that if you get serious, train hard and keep up your marks, you can go down and get an education,” Jackson says. “I thought I could do that.”

He focused his efforts on the 400m and 400m hurdles, and when some exposure to NCAA schools started to come his way, he began to put a list of criteria together of what he wanted in a school.

“I wanted a school that wasn’t too far away,” he says. “I really wanted to have a program that was adaptable to something that will be relevant and something I can use going forward in my life.

“I really wanted the opportunity to be working when I’m in school. Something that had a co-op. I found that at Tiffin.”

Because Tiffin was a Division II school, Jackson didn’t think he would get in. But he went to visit the campus anyway, and first impressions made a lasting one on the 17 year old.

“I went down there and was blown away. I was so shocked. It was everything I wanted and more,” he says.

When he’s not representing the Dragons at NCAA track meets, Jackson will be enrolled in the computer information technology course. Excited about entering a new environment, he ended the summer season on a high note, setting a personal best in the 400m at the provincial championships in Ottawa.

Tony Sharpe helps score scholarships for track and field stars

tony sharpe

Sharpe, the former Canadian Olympian, runs the Speed Academy, a developmental track and field club in Pickering, which has helped dozens of athletes get NCAA scholarships.

The club was founded in 2006 and Sharpe left his corporate account manager’s job at Bell to track athletes full-time a few years later.

“I’m a full-time coach, you know, not something people do often in Canada,” says Sharpe, 59, adding about 50 Speed Academy athletes have received scholarships.