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WHERE R THEY NOW?: JAY PASION

Name: Jay Pasion

Sport(s): 1988-1991 Cross Country/Track & FieldJay Pasion

Accomplishments: JFK Cross-Country “Magnificent 7” and 300 Meter Hurdle Record Holder during senior year (record still stands today)

Occupation: U.S. Army Infantry Paratrooper with 82nd Airborne Division and 173rd “Sky Soldiers” and now with United States Army Africa (USARAF)

Family: Jasmine Ann Pasion (12-yrs-old) and Sofia Marie Pasion (9-yrs-old)

You ran in the hay days of JFK sprinting. What’s the most memorable moments for you?

My most memorable moment was when I broke my mentor Joe Blaz’s 300 hurdles during my senior year. Since 9th grade I would watch Joe Blaz glide through those hurdles like a gazelle but with the speed of a leopard. During my junior year, my coach then (Mr. Jim Taitano) sat me down and said,“ In order for you to break Joe’s record you would have to switch legs” meaning I would need to alternate each leg every time I jumped the hurdles. It took me a few weeks to situate myself with this new way of hurdling. I sometimes fell and got frustrated but never quit.

Today, our high schoolers hold their meet at Leo Palace, a close-to-world-class facility. How were the track conditions when you ran?

The conditions on Ramsey Field were horrible. We had nothing compared to what today’s athletes have now. But it was what we had and we made it fun, dominated and excelled with pride being an athlete in JFK. The 400 meter track was entirely made of concrete asphalt with a fine spread of dirt and pebbles.

Jay Pasion was one of the sprint stars that set the JFK program toward a long successful journey. (courtesy photo)

Jay Pasion was one of the sprint stars that set the JFK program toward a long successful journey. (courtesy photo)

Why was JFK track so dominant back then?

I sometimes reminisce about how we would run together as a team during Cross Country and Track & Field. We dominated these sports because of the support and guidance of the entire school most especially my coaches and family. As a freshman, I had to grow and mature into a competitive sport. It took guts and stamina – most importantly endurance both physically and mentally. My first coach Mr. Joe Taitano saw something in me and encouraged me to tryout and continue to strive.

What was so different from other schools?

During these times in JFK, our athletic department was the best of the best. We had numerous coaches – Mr Joe and Christine Taitano – who gave their time and space to accommodate each and every athlete that roamed the halls of JFK. They are the epitome of what a leader is!!! This is why I loved the sportsmanship and competitiveness of the “Islanders!” And what made our school different was the quality and diversity of each athlete. I had many whom I looked up back then and even at this very moment like Eladio Manansala, Melvin Jamindang, Jay Antonio, Jin Han, Christina Lopez and Jason Iriarte all whom are educators, leaders and entrepreneurs in today’s society.

How much has that type of training carried over to your adult life?

After high school, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I joined the Guam Army National Guard because I was always intrigued of what being a soldier was. Like being an athlete I had to face my fears and failures during basic training. I remember my drill sergeant seeing me run my butt off and pass the entire platoon and I earned my first 300 Army Physical Fitness Test Badge.

I wouldn’t slack off and drop back from any run because I was always competing with myself. As soon as my drill sergeant sees me slacking off he would yell, “You better get up there Private Pasion!!! So training and being a runner made me stand out in my first days in basic training in Ft Benning, Georgia.

I did represent the Guam National Guard in the Lincoln-Nebraska Half Marathon and it makes me laugh (not during that time) because I was the only guy wearing socks on my hands and a black heavy duty trash bag in the start of the race. It took me until the 6-8 mile marker to get all warmed up. I could not afford winter running gear. It would’ve been nice to have that gear so I wouldn’t have had gone into convulsions as I crossed the finish line. They yelled, “Get this guardsman in the heated tent!!” That was a memory worth not remembering!!

Looks like you still stay in shape. Any track work?

I still run because I need to. I need to stay in shape and not choke just because I am retired. I regularly head to the gym five to six days a week with cardio and weigh training. And go to a cross fit gym every other week. Believe me, being in an Airborne Unit has its perks but in this community this job is more for younger soldiers.

My body has gone through bumps and bruises but I continue to compete with myself. Last year, Raymond Blas and I took part in the Tough Mudder event in Berlin Germany. That actually was fun but not for the weak-minded. It was mentally and physically draining most especially when it was close to freezing temperatures.

You’ve been away from Guam for quite some time because of your military obligations. What do you miss most about home?

What I miss about home is: the ability to enjoy the culture and island lifestyle. I was raised there for most of my childhood. The memories of family, friends and leading a life of accomplishments and failures have transformed me into who I am today. Last time I was home was 2006 when my grandfather passed away. And before that I was deployed to Guantanamo Bay Cuba, Germany, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Czechoslovakia. I miss my sister and cousins and numerous aunts and uncles whom I haven’t since like forever. Thanks to today’s technology…they are able to see my daughters and I could see theirs.

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Sports legend Joe Taitano used to run to school at JFK from his Yigo home and back. He continued this routine up to 1979 when he’d run from home to GW gym and back to practice for the South Pacific Games with the national basketball team. Guam went on to win its second straight SPG gold medal.

 

 

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