Yesterday I got the pleasure of photographing Evan Jager, an alum from Jacobs High School in Algonquin, Ill. and 2012 Olympian.
Evan competed in the 3,000m steeplechase, taking sixth place, and holds the American record at 8:06.81, and is the 2012 Olympic Trials champion with 8:17.40.
The amazing thing about Evan is that final he raced at the Olympics was his seventh time ever running a competitive steeplechase race. (Here is a link to the Olympic final, in case you have no idea what a steeplechase race consists of)
According to his mom Cathy Jager, he is normally a 1,500m or 5k runner and the idea of steeplechase came from his high school coach Kevin Christian. Unfortunately Evan broke his navicular bone in 2010, so he was forced to recover for about a year, and in October of 2011 that’s when he started training for the race with his current coach Jerry Schumacher.
Cathy told me that Evan attended the University of Wisconsin on scholarship, but then moved to Portland to continue training with Jerry Schumacher, and is now a professional runner for Nike. Cathy had one stipulation for Evan when he moved to Portland, “you have to finish your college education, that was the number one thing. Behave yourself, but finish your college education.”
When asked about the prospect of her son making it to the Olympics, Cathy said, “We watched his race in April, and we were both (Evan’s parents) like, we need to book the tickets now.” Good call.
At the homecoming ceremony, both of his former high school coaches basically talked about what a wonderful, humble, and likable guy Evan is. Even going as far as saying that he is a coach’s dream.
“Starting junior year he had rock star status in high school, every meet he went to, every guy and every girl wanted to talk to him, everyone wanted to be him. He was the most popular guy the second we stepped off the bus, yet every time he stayed humble, he never let it get to his head. He was that type of person for us,” coach Christian said.
The funniest quote of the ceremony went to coach Jason Borhart, “I agree with every nice and kind word that’s ever been written about Evan, except one thing … I come across an article, and Evan’s name is in this article … we get to the end of the article, and there’s Evan’s name and his picture, and he’s listed as one of the top ten sexiest track athletes … my family and I couldn’t understand why a kid is on that list, but that kid has grown up.”
Anyone I asked about Evan, they always replied with what a great kid he is, how humble, and I asked him about it, he responded, “I try not to be a jerk, I don’t think it’s worth it to showboat all the attention. Being seen as being humble is worth more to me than showboating.”
Pretty awesome answer I’d say.
He ended off the interview while having a hallway full of teenage girls screaming his name (which reminds me how much I do not miss high school) by saying, “running well wouldn’t mean as much if there was no one around me that cared about it.”
You keep running Evan, and best of luck in Rio 2016.