courtesy of eric jacobson
Colts senior Gerardo Castro won two distance events Thursday at El Camino’s first track meet in over 20 years. Thanks to the efforts of athletic director Eric Jacobson, El Camino is enjoying a refurbished state-of-the-art facility which includes a new football field and synthetic track.
El Camino students would be hard-pressed to find a better inspiration than Eric Jacobson.
From having his name etched on the Blanket Award as El Camino’s male athlete of the year in 1988 to starting his coaching career for the Colts just two years later, Jacobson has spent half his life investing in a legacy as both a player and a coach.
Now in his second tenure as athletic director, Jacobson has brought one of his most ambitious undertakings to light in helping El Camino secure a modern football and track complex. As part of the 2010 bond Measure J which allocated $4.3 million for facilities repurposing in the South San Francisco Unified School District, El Camino and South City are among the last two high schools in San Mateo County to undergo retrofitting of their main fields with state-of-the-art synthetic football turf and mesh track surfaces.
As a result, for the first time in over 20 years, El Camino hosted a track meet Thursday, welcoming Oceana, Jefferson and Woodside to compete in the historic event.
While South City’s Clifford Field is currently under renovations and scheduled for completion at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, El Camino opened its new football facilities last November in hosting its annual rivalry game with South City.
“A lot of these kids growing up in the South San Francisco district have never had a real track,” said Pat Holmes, El Camino track and field head coach. “From grade school to middle school to high school, all they’ve ever known is dirt. So this was very exciting for them.”
For Jacobson, reinventing El Camino’s athletic facilities has been quite the labor of love while enduring a litany of health issues. After serving as athletic director for almost a decade, Jacobson had to step down in 2008 after a long battle with
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a rare muscle disorder that led to his right leg being amputated in 2010.
It was the end of a long and painful struggle. According to Jacobson, the amputation was a blessing.
“I have no pain,” Jacobson said. “I went from being in constant pain to having my foot amputated and having no pain.”
It was during that same year the money for the long-needed facilities overhaul was passed on the November ballot. So, a year later, Jacobson was reinstated as a co-athletic director along with Jeff Cosico to see the project through.
“I needed something to do and this was my thing,” Jacobson said. “I was going to get it done or I was going to die trying. So I’m very proud.”
Thursday, El Camino christened its new track in style by winning the boys’ varsity, boys’ frosh-soph and girls’ frosh-soph portions of the track and field meet, with Woodside placing second and Jefferson placing third. Woodside captured first in girls’ varsity with Jefferson placing second and El Camino placing third.
El Camino’s girls’ frosh-soph 4x100, anchored by sophomore Janeya Ware, won the first event of the day in 48.47 seconds.
The Colts’ varsity boys scored 71 points to pace the biggest win of the day, placing over second-place Woodside (50 points) and third-place Westmoor (28 points). El Camino senior Gerardo Castro paced the squad with two early distance wins, taking the 1,600-meter in 4:24 and the 800-meter in 1:56.
El Camino junior Andres Abaraca captured first in the 110-meter hurdles in 16.9 seconds. Colts senior Brandon Gip won the final boys’ varsity event of the day with a 10:49 finish in the 3,200-meter.
According to Holmes, more than 100 people — athletes and fans combined — were present for the track meet. The remodel is complete with new bleachers with the field wired for lights that Jacobson hopes will be installed after a future bond measure finances them.
“We used to have like 12 people and now the stands are full and teachers are up there,” Jacobson said. “We never had teachers up there before. … It’s something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime.”