No Looking Back For Kiera Jackson
Kiera Jackson rarely lost a race to the puck on the ice. She’s still one of the fastest in her sport, even if her sport has changed.
The Wheatley product, a once promising hockey prospect who played Junior for the Southwest Wildcats of the PWHL, traded in her skates after high school for running shoes as a sprinter for the University of Windsor Lancers.
Even Jackson, who still loves hockey, isn’t sure if she chose track, or if track chose her. And there is no looking back for the talented runner.
“I don’t necessarily know if I chose track and field, or if track and field chose me,” said Jackson, who specializes in sprints, and relays with the Windsor Lancers.
“You could have asked me every day up until senior year what my plans were post-secondary and I would have told you “hockey.” I wanted to pursue am NCAA career with the intentions of wearing our family’s distinct Heinz associated number “57”, and I was so ambitious it felt as though there was no obstacle too great or too challenging.”
In fact, it was cross-training for hockey, that opened the door to Jackson’s track and field career.
My senior year of high school I began training more often with Border City Athletics, which was originally supposed to be for my conditioning and cross-training for hockey. As the season went on for both hockey and indoor track, I grew a greater respect and passion for the sport of track,” she said, crediting her Leamington District Secondary School coach Dylan Langlois, and Border City coach Kurt Downs for the confidence to perform, and pursue a track career.
“Track was a small constant in my life, until one day I woke up and decided to be open-minded about my post-secondary options. I had endless support from my family to choose whichever option I was most passionate about, and I was ready for the next stage in my life. Not long after, I had gotten in touch with the University of Windsor’s head track coach, Colin Inglis. With my jersey hung and the hockey journey documented and ready for the archives, the pieces fell into place and the wheels were in motion. It was the most effortless and natural commitment I’ve ever made to anything in my entire life.”
Since then, Jackson admits she’s missed the game of hockey
“There are lots of things I miss about playing,” Jackson explained. “I miss the feeling when you first step on the ice and you get that cold crisp sensation in your chest, the sound of pucks passing from stick to stick and I miss skating. There was such a thrill and adrenaline rush associated with a hard-fast skate, whether it be for a backcheck, an iced puck, a rush, it’s a feeling like no other. And until you’ve lived through the Southwest Wildcat years, you probably won’t understand why or how, but I genuinely miss Forest Glade Arena.”
Despite those feelings, Jackson’s time with the Windsor Lancers, which included an OUA bronze medal this year in the 4x400m relay, has replaced the longing for the ice, with an excitement about the track.
“Competing for the Lancer’s track team has been the most rewarding experience to date,” said Jackson, who will enter her senior year next season, when and if OUA athletics return. “I am positively challenged every day I show up to the track because everyone has a respect and understanding for accountability and what it means to be accountable to yourself, your coaches, and your teammates. I get better every rep because my teammates won’t give me the opportunity to falter and are continuously pushing me to do better and be faster. The moment an athlete is satisfied with giving the minimal effort to achieve a time, is when you will see the improvements decline. I’ve never experienced that as a Lancer.”
Nominated for Windsor’s captains award for leadership on and off the field this year, Jackson is hopeful to continue leading her team, and being led by her teammates to greater success next season.
“This season we had an astounding number of personal bests achieved, and excellent performances at our OUA and USports championships and I know this number will continue to increase for seasons to come. Windsor’s track and field team continuously exemplifies dedication and motivation when reaching personal and team goals by doing whatever it takes and trusting the process.”