Puryear, who lives in Somerset, is an Honor Roll student, a Student Ambassador, and a member of the track and field team at UC.
Last Saturday, Puryear made school history when she became the first girl from Union Catholic to ever win the Union County shot put championship when she finished first with a throw of 38-5. This past Tuesday, she threw the shot put 39-2 1/2, the fifth best throw in the state this season, to break her own school record in a dual meet at Westfield.
Here is our Q and A with Puryear -
Considering everything I’ve been through to get to this point, being a county champ is a very important title to me. It represents my resilience and determination to be great at my events, and shows how passionate I am about my sport. I didn’t set out to win titles, but instead set distance goals for each of my events. I work each week towards those goals and winning the title reminds me I’m on track to accomplishing each goal I set, no matter how big they are.
I know you are the school record holder indoors and outdoors in the shot, and also in the discus. What does that mean to you, Jada? You must be very proud to be the best thrower in school history?
When I think about my school records, I am so grateful that God gave me my talent. It’s mind-blowing when I reminisce on where I started versus where I am now. It’s extremely uplifting to see how much I’ve prospered at events I never imagined myself doing. I’m very proud of myself and how determined I was to break those records. My records not only represent my capability as an athlete, but my ability to set and pursue huge goals. They’re motivation for me to accomplish even more before, and after I graduate. And they are a constant reminder of my strength and resilience.
Since I am a junior and there was no outdoor season my sophomore year, I’ve missed valuable time improving at discus. I have lots to make up for. Since breaking the school record in the discus with a throw of 131-7. I’ve thrown over 140 in practice. It’s really hard to control the spin when I don’t get to practice much or compete, so I want to perfect my technique and control in the circle. This year, I want to throw 145 and up in the discus, and 45 feet in the shot put. I have even bigger goals for my senior year.
I was previously successful at running track prior to arriving at UC, which I had been doing since I was six years old. Competing during growth spurts caused many injuries over the years, but my last three years of running were extremely painful and difficult. I was experiencing both a physical and mental block, which I quickly grew tired of. I was first introduced to UC through the track program, which was excellent, so ultimately I attended UC to run. Coming in, I had a chronic injury and I had found out that my iron levels were extremely low, which made running that much more difficult. At this point I didn’t want to run anymore, but I also didn’t want to quit the team because I loved going to meets and being around my friends. I decided to try shot put, which I didn’t like at first, but I stuck it out. It’s funny because my very first outdoor practice, I was standing in the pit and I got hit with a 16 pound shot right in my knee. I walked it off, went to the trainer, and came back 20 minutes later ready to throw. After that, I knew I was a thrower. Discus is what really excited me because it came so natural. Right off the bat, my speed carried me across that circle, which to this day is my biggest strength as a thrower.
I actually don’t have much time to do all the activities I would like to participate in because practice, schoolwork and training take so much of my time. However, I participate in the African American Cultural Appreciation Club, which I love to be a part of. I’m also a Student Ambassador.
Three Varsity Letters, Honor Roll, National French Honor Society, National Honor Society, National Society of High School Scholars, The Sister Mary Eloise Claire Kays, RSM Endowed Scholarship, and The Class of 68 Endowed Scholarship.
It is difficult to balance studies and athletics because both are very time-consuming. A lot of nights I’m up very late doing homework, which is overwhelming. However, it’s great preparation for college, especially since I want to go into the medical field. Balancing academics and my sport has allowed me to practice diligence and time management. It’s better to be involved in various activities, so you don’t get tired of one and can have new experiences. Colleges also love to see an involved student so that they know you are capable of maintaining school and extracurricular activities, even if you don’t stick with the same ones throughout high school.
I am still considering my undergrad major, but I ultimately want to be a Sports Medicine Orthopedic Surgeon.