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Jada Mia Puryear is the first girl from Union Catholic to win the Union County shot put title

In our latest installment of Feature Friday, we shine the spotlight on Union Catholic junior Jada Mia Puryear.

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 -

What does being the Union County shot put champion mean to you? 

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. 

What are your goals for the rest of your junior year in shot and discus? 

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.

How and when did you get started throwing shot and discus and what do you feel is your greatest skill set that has enabled you to be good in both events? 

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. 

You are such a well rounded student at UC. Can you list everything you are involved in at UC?  

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. 

Top awards/honors received at UC?  

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.

Can you explain how the balance between academics and extracurricular activities has helped you become a better student, and how important it is to be involved in different things?  

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. 

What do you love the most about being a student at UC?
I love how understanding and considerate the staff is. 
What do you love most about being a member of the track and field team at UC and representing the school?
I love my team’s winning reputation because it makes me work harder so that we can continue to win. Knowing that we’ve won so many titles is motivation to win more. 
Why and how did you decide that UC was the place for you to be?  What was it about UC that made you want to be a student here?
I loved how welcoming and kind the staff at UC is. They truly want you to success, and they make sure to give everyone who accomplishes anything recognition. Whether they made honor roll, won a game or meet, scored points, did something amazing outside of school, etc. 
What kind of advice would you give to younger students who are considering attending UC?
Although you may already have in mind what extracurricular activities you want to pursue going into your freshman year, always stay open-minded and be willing to try new things. You never know what you might excel at or love. 
Why should they come to UC and what will UC give them that they won’t be able to find at other schools?
UC provides an endless amount of choices for any student no matter what your interests are. They’ll never be bored because there is something for everyone to do. If not, UC encourages students to create clubs and any student movement or idea that the students feel passionate about. 
How about the future Jada? What schools are you looking at right now to consider your academic and throwing career?
I am interested and in contact with a good amount of prestigious schools, however I’m still remaining open- minded and am willing to consider any college that wants me. 
What would you like to major in? What type of career would you like to pursue?

I am still considering my undergrad major, but I ultimately want to be a Sports Medicine Orthopedic Surgeon.

What is something about yourself that most people don’t know? 
I’m quite the singer. 
Favorite thing to do in your spare time? 
Hang out with my friends. 
Favorite class and teacher at UC?
Madame Ciringione/ French 4H. 
Favorite UC track and field moment?
The 2020 Indoor State Championships: one of my favorite days ever. 
Favorite UC event?
Freshman Field Day
Favorite UC core value?
Life motto?
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. –Philippians 4:13
One word to describe your UC experience:
Share one tip for members of the class of 2024?
Never limit your possibilities; always set huge goals. 



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