Miami Trace High School senior Jacob Downing had a sweet Valentine’s Day.
Not withstanding the romantic aspect of the day, that was the day when Downing made known to the world his college plans.
With family, friends, coaches and administrators in attendence, Downing signed a letter of intent to attend Shawnee State University, located in Portsmouth, Ohio.
“They’re giving me a scholarship for swimming,” Downing said.
Downing has been a member of the Miami Trace swim team all four years in high school.
“I was really interested in Shawnee at first,” Downing said. “I was thinking (about) O.U. (Ohio University). To narrow it down to Shawnee, it was just the programs they can offer me. And the coach. The coach was a big factor for me.”
When he finishes college, sports is going to continue to be a big part of Downing’s life.
“I’m going to study exercise science so I can be an athletic trainer,” Downing said.
His soon-to-be alma mater is dear to Downing.
“It’s been great,” Downing said. “I love Miami Trace. All the teachers here are great. You can go to, like, an English teacher and they will help you with math. It’s been great for all the teachers to be helping me, all four years.
“My favorite teacher would have to be Miss (D.J.) Brandt (a science teacher) over at the middle school,” Downing said. “She was amazing for me.”
In the pool, Downing specializes in freestyle and backstroke.
“Those are my main (strokes),” Downing said. “Normally short distance, sprinting, is my best thing.
“Our coach, Katie (Kasberg) makes (practices) really fun for everybody,” Downing said. “We’ll play games at one practice, then she’ll make us swim 4,000 yards at the next practice. She’s really good with everybody.”
“(I want to thank) my parents (John and Tracy), for sure,” Downing said. “All of my coaches and teachers. My grandparents (Wayne and Mary Downing); they’re amazing.”
Downing will be a charter member of a brand new swim program at Shawnee State.
“We are in our first year of existence,” Shawnee State head swim coach Gerald Cadogan said. “Our first year of competition will be this upcoming season. Right now we’re building (the program) and Jacob Downing will be one of the first-ever swimmers at Shawnee State University.
“I’ve been the coach at Portsmouth High School for the past eight years,” Cadogan said. “So, I have a feel for other coaches. What I’m trying to do is get the best of the best and that’s what I have here with Jacob. I touched base with him earlier in the swim season and he showed some interest. He’s a great swimmer, freestyle and backstroke. He’s a sprinter with the 50 and 100 freestyle and then the 100 backstroke. He has a bright future and his best swimming is ahead of him.”
What will be a key to success at the next level?
“Definitely practicing with the team and then, after practice, just putting in work,” Downing said. “Working in the weight room, just getting stronger so I can be a better swimmer.”
“I think when Jacob first came out to swim, he kind of came out just for fun and maybe to pick up some girls, I think was his quote,” Miami Trace swim coach Katie Kasberg said. “He has really grown as a swimmer over the years. It’s been fun to coach him. I’ve only been his coach for two years. That’s how long I’ve been coaching Miami Trace. I’ve been around him as a coach for Washington Court House for all the years that he’s been swimming.
“Jacob has great team spirit,” Kasberg said. “Especially with the new kids who come out for the team, making them feel welcome, making them feel like part of the team. When they have to go up and swim the tough events, he’s always behind the (starting) blocks, encouraging the new swimmers.
“Isn’t it exciting, to be part of something that is brand new,” Kasberg said. “I think he has a good attitude for helping be part of a new program, welcoming new people and building team spirit. I think that’s a good fit for Jake.”