Jamal Currica is the senior team captain for the Damascus Hornets. He is an outstanding athlete who excels on the track, in the jumps, and on the football field. He recently won the county high jump title with a leap of 6'-6" and led his team to a 5th place finish at the county championship. He is also an outstanding young man who looks up to his coach and his pastor and wants to be the first person in his family to get a college degree. Read about his development into an elite athlete, his proudest moments, and his goals for the future.
MoCoRunning: I'm sure no one has ever asked you this before, but how tall are you? Is everyone in your family that tall?
Currica: I'm 6'3 but to alot of my friends I appear much taller. No...I am the only real tall one. Calvin (one of my older brothers who's out of school) is 6'2 but all the rest are short. But I have a little sister, Becca who will grow tall like me. She is 4'7 and she's only 5 years old.
MoCoRunning: I saw that you were recognized by the Washington Post and the Gazette as one of the best defensive football players in the county. What kind of season did you have this year and what was your proudest moment?
Currica: I think I had a great season as I led the team in sacks with 11. My proudest moment this year was when I blocked a punt in a game and my friend Josh (who is on the track team with me) picked it up and ran it about 20 yards. Honestly, the proudest I was was when Josh was running the ball, not when I blocked it.
MoCoRunning: Do you remember the first time you tried the high jump? Was it a disaster or were you surprised with your ability?
Currica: Yeah, it was at a dual meet and I didn't even clear 5 feet. Coach Youngblood sort of made me laugh because he wanted me to not be sad but wanted me to see the funny side (my teammate who was a girl out jumped me). This was funny, because I like my teammates but I couldn't have a girl out-jump me so I had to prove to myself that I was good at this. It really wasn't a disaster but made me realize I had to work more.
MoCoRunning: Clearing 6 feet in the high jump takes talent, but last spring you began to consistently clear 6-2 and 6-4, which must take a great deal of dedication and practice. What kinds of drills and exercises were you doing during practice last spring and this winter to improve your form, strength, and consistency?
Currica: I worked on my endurance and my technique as well as strength. I can now bench press 245 lbs, but in the beginning I was benching about 95 lbs. This year 'Blood had me watch some videos and he helped me change my approach. He has me opening my stride and now my turn is smooth like Chelsea's (my teammate) who has a really smooth turn. Blood has me now with more speed and smoothness, which helps me on the technique that Mr Burke (one of my 2 coaches of last year) showed me. Now I am more consistant and feel a great jump is inside waiting to get out.
MoCoRunning: Have you ever gone to any camps or anything outside of school to help you improve in the high jump?
Currica: Yes, I have been to camps. I went to a camp in New Jersey with Dwight Stones (who jumped in the Olympics and cleared 7'8).
MoCoRunning: Last May, you went to the state championship seeded at 6-1 in the high jump. Your coach and your teammates were on the hill cheering you on as you cleared height after height. When you cleared 6-6, your teammates jumped up and cheered and your coach went nuts. What was that moment like for you?
Currica: The State meet was really incredible. After every jump, I see Blood, Mr. Burke and all of them cheering me on. It was the greatest moment in my life to get this. I felt like my team was with me on every jump and I was real glad Blood was there because he has always been there for me and they were all supporting me.
MoCoRunning: How did that moment compare to winning the football state championship 2 years ago?
Currica: Hmmm.... let's say this...winning States in football was great but, clearing 6'6 was like a dream. It was the best moment I have ever had.
MoCoRunning: You are also one of the top returning sprinters in the county this year and a good long jumper. How do you divide your time during practice?
Currica: Well, I do the workouts with the sprinters and some days I do run outs and High Jump. Coach Youngblood decides what is best for me and he always seems to know the right things for me. Coach made me a captain after my sophomore year at the team awards party. I was suprised he made a decision that early ( a season early). This helps me in finishing workouts as I have more to do but as a leader and a captain, I should set the example.
MoCoRunning: Now you have jumped 6-6 a few times, which establishes you as one of the best athletes in the state. What are your goals for the remainder of this track season (indoor and outdoor) in the high jump? What are your goals for the other events that you will focus on?
Currica: In indoor I would like to clear 6'10 and win the Regional and State titles, but I have respect for the High Jump and there are some good jumpers out there. I know it won't be easy. My goals for my other events are to lead my young 4x2 relay to the state meet and to make it in my other 2 events as well.
MoCoRunning: You seem to have a lot of Damascus pride. What should we expect to see out of your team and your teammates for the remainder of the year?
Currica: Yeah, Coach Blood always wants me to be proud in everything I do, so I want him to be proud of me. So as for my team, I expect them to work hard and love the sport because I love this sport.
MoCoRunning: What are you thinking right now in terms of college?
Currica: Oh my goodness...um, alright lets think. I have a lot of goals in life like to graduate from HS and get a degree from college (I'll be the first in my family). For track and football I am looking for a school that will let me do both sports and make sure I get a degree...and maybe get a chance to coach the Dallas Cowboys, hahaha. But seriously, I want to get a chance to do both in college and then teach PE and coach.
MoCoRunning: What do you like to do in your spare time? Who is Jamal Currica?
Currica: In my spare time I like to read my bible and play Madden. Ohhhh, I like when Youngblood takes me to AppleBee's and bowling. He wont admit this but I can beat him bowling. I just like being with him and my teammates. Ok, something else about me, hmmm...Jamal is a nice, handsome young man with a great smile that would help anyone and everyone.
MoCoRunning: What is better: mowing down a quarter back, forcing a fumble, or high jumping 6'-6"?
Currica: Hmm... mowing down the quarterback because it just feels good. But clearing 6'6...it makes you feel great too. So if I clear 6'10, then ask me this question.