Glencoe's Jayda Lee shines at state's showcase track meet, and beyond
It's June, and Glencoe senior Jayda Lee is playing basketball.
That feels kind of weird to the three-sport athlete, but Lee is making the most of it, with the end of her storied high school career fast approaching.
"It's been a blur, for sure," Lee said, "But I tried not to think about how different everything was and took the approach that there was nothing I could do about it, so I was going to make the best of it."
And she has.
Lee — who is also an all-league volleyball and basketball player — just finished her Glencoe track and field career with first-place finishes in the discus and shot put, along with a fifth place finish in the high jump at the 6A state showcase May 21-22 at Pioneer Memorial Stadium in Oregon City.
For Lee, she is spending her last weeks at Glencoe reaping the fruits of many years of labor.
There were "a lot of days when I didn't want to lift, or throw, or wake up early, or go through the same hard work, but (I) kept doing it," Lee said.
"These last three months were so rewarding," she added. "It's cool to see it all pay off."
She hasn't done it alone, however. Lee praises all of her coaches for her success, including Glencoe head track and field coach Ian Reynoso.
But in addition to Reynoso and her other various coaches, her dad, Won — who also coaches at Century High School, one of Glencoe's crosstown rivals — has been front and center in an effort to make her the best athlete she can be.
"He's been very important," Lee said. "He's been my lifting partner for the last year and been my throwing coach up to season, when my Glencoe coaches would take over. I joke that he's my assistant sometimes."
Won Lee was an accomplished athlete himself, playing both football and competing in track and field at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo while earning a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He's been coaching at Century since 2017 while working with Jayda and son Blake, who was an accomplished pole vaulter for the Tide in 2018, and now attends Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Won has always been there for his kids, but even Jayda said there are times when she has to keep him at arm's length.
"He's very much a micro-manager, so he's always pestering me about 'have you done this' or 'have you done that,'" Jayda Lee said with a chuckle. "It can be a little overwhelming, but at the same time, it's helpful and probably something I take for granted. I know it's because he just wants to help out and he loves me so much."
As his daughter has matured, Won Lee said he's backed away due to her growing level of discipline and work ethic.
"In the beginning of her throwing career, I pushed her pretty hard to practice and lift, however it is clear now that she does not need that from me anymore — but I still forget," he said jokingly. "The biggest challenge for me is during a meet and trying to refrain from coaching her. Her technique is now at a place where she does not need coaching but instead need words of encouragement."
Jayda Lee's hard work — and maybe a little of her dad's "pestering" — paid off, for the soon-to-be-graduate earned a partial track and field scholarship to BYU. She plans to leave for college in August and will compete in a national track and field event at Hayward Field in Eugene on June 30. She continues to train, and while she's excited about what she's accomplished thus far, she also believes she has a long way to go before reaching her potential.
It's been just a year since she truly started strength training, and with the results already fairly evident, the sky may be the limit for a young woman still seeking her best.
"I still have a long way to go strength-wise, and my technique is still pretty slow for a thrower," Jayda Lee said. "I'm hoping to still improve by a lot in college."
Won Lee has little doubt that will happen, due primarily to the premier coaching and equipment she'll have access to as part of the Cougars' team.
"I can't wait to see how she does when she only has to focus on one sport with all the resources they have for her," Won Lee said. "I am expecting her to qualify for NCAA Nationals and eventually break the school record at BYU … but I am more excited that she is challenging herself academically."
With far more than athletics on her plate and mind, Jayda Lee said she plans to study engineering in college. Computer engineering is a notoriously male-dominated field, and she is excited by the prospect of breaking into it as a woman.
Beyond that, she hopes to someday reach 200 feet in the discus, qualify for the NCAA Championships, and maybe go to the Olympic Trials. But for now, she's enjoying her final weeks in high school and appreciating what sports have meant and continue to mean to her during this very trying time.
"I've learned to be grateful for the little things, which is very cliché, but also so true," Jayda Lee said. "This past year has really changed my perspective on life and our world is moving so fast now, it's made me realize what's really important in life."
And Won Lee? He's just proud of his daughter — and he's looking forward to his new role in her life.
"I am actually looking forward to when she goes to BYU, as I can now be 'Dad' and not 'Coach,'" he said.
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