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Syracuse track alum Jarret Eaton talks about competing in Europe and giving back to grow the sport

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We tell you how you can help his “Extra Pair Campaign”

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ATHLETICS-WORLD-INDOOR Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images

Syracuse Orange alum Jarret Eaton will always hold an important place in school history. As the first individual NCAA champion in track and field Jarret left a legacy in Syracuse. Now in his professional career he’s looking to do the same. He took some time in between European meets to answer some questions about his work on and off the track.

TNIAAM: You’ve been running the best times of your career this season. Has there been any changes in your training or do you contribute the success to other factors?

Jaret Eaton: It’s been a good year for me so far. My training has somewhat been the same as previous years. The only changes have been looking at how my previous season has been, finding the areas of improvement and including workouts or drills to improve upon for the next season. On a personal level I have changed the way my normal work week is scheduled. I work as a substitute teacher everyday except Wednesday. I chose Wednesday to be my personal day where I would volunteer and do yoga to re-center myself in the week. These are two things that I felt were missing from my life and I took a day to reclaim part of myself.”

TNIAAM: What led you to focus on competitions in Europe this season as opposed to staying in the US and competing?

JE: “I would have loved to stay in the USA and compete but there were not as many professional competitions available compared to overseas. I was able to get more quality races overseas while making a little bit of money in the process. The trade off just made more sense.”

Athletics Indoor Meeting of Paris 2018 Photo by Michel Stoupak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

TNIAAM: Watching the videos after you ran your world-leading time during the indoor season it seems like you are enjoying yourself at these meets. I know when we spoke last you mentioned the energy you feel in Europe, how would you describe it for people who aren’t familiar with track and field?

JE: “I wanted to approach this season a little differently. As a younger athlete I was taught to suppress my personality and energy to be more reserved. I think a lot of athletes were taught that in this push to make track and field a more “gentleman’s sport”. This year I wanted to truly be me and to show my personality to those who came to the event. I wanted to personally touch and control the energy in those arenas and enjoy every moment I had on the track. That energy is such a unique and powerful force that really gets me fired up to race and at the same time, is a contradicting calmness. When your in the middle of it all in your lane, while the fans are yelling and cheering at you, it can get really loud and overwhelming, then just moments later it can be so quiet you would have thought everyone had disappeared. The influx of energy at track meets are so familiar to me and its what helped me break free from my shell.”

Athletics Indoor Meeting of Paris 2018 Photo by Michel Stoupak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

TNIAAM: As you prepare for the upcoming US Championships, what’s your focus? Do you look at what some of the other top hurdlers are doing or is your focus on what you are doing?

JE: “Going into USAs the focus is to maintain what I’ve been doing all season. I’ve been working with my coach to fix some minor things that need improvement but it’s mainly making sure this engine is running well and that I’m healthy while feeling strong and confident. I’ve also been watching film of myself and other great hurdles from the past as a competitive reference.“

TNIAAM: When you head to Des Moines you aren’t just coming to compete on the track, but are also looking to give back. What gave you the idea to start “An Extra Pair” campaign?

JE: “I am also a volunteer coach at a high school and everyday I see my students coming to practice with shoes that aren’t fit for running. Some kids would get injuries due to their shoes and it could be completely preventable. We’ve educated these kids about proper shoes but some just can’t afford to buy a $100 pair of running shoes let alone an additional pair of track spikes to compete in. I saw this and it was a problem I felt like I could solve. I ended up helping a few kids with shoes and realized that this problem wasn’t just unique to my high school. I ended up having a convo with a friend of mine who was sponsored and I casually said would you donate a pair of your extra running shoes to a high school kid and she replied saying yes, she gets so many shoes it wouldn’t be a problem! So I ended up essentially creating a campaign where all athletes looking to donate a pair of running shoes could do so together and we could positively impact a deserving community.”

TNIAAM: How have your efforts been received by other track and field athletes?

JE: “People have been telling me how wonderful of an idea this is and how they can get involved. I reached out to USATF and the AAC and they were thrilled by the idea and wanted to help support me in my request of getting tickets to some of the kids to attend the championships. But so far its been nothing but positive.”

TNIAAM: What can Syracuse fans do if they’d like to contribute to the program?

JE: “Fortunately the campaign didn’t stop at Albuquerque NM. The campaign has received enough support that I will try and make it an annual event, serving different high schools all across the country. I will be constantly collecting donations of shoes and money donations on my website https://www.jarreteaton.com/donate. If you’re interested send me an email with your interest and we can keep this campaign going.”

We thank Jarret for the time and wish him well at the USATF Championships later this month. You can follow Jarret online on Instagram or Twitter.

We’ll keep you updated on all the Syracuse alums competing in Des Moines as the competition gets closer.