Jackie Comeau may be moving a little slower these days.
Certainly not on the track, where the multi-sport La Salle All-State senior is one of the top runners in the state.
But definitely when she walks the streets of her South Kingstown neighborhood.
Can you blame her?
She’s weighted down with a heavy backpack filled with dumbbells.
Her featherlight running sneakers that help her fly to the finish line in indoor and outdoor track have been replaced by heavy, stiff work boots.
Comeau is preparing for entry into West Point. She is just one of only a handful of La Salle females to ever get accepted and attend the prestigious, rigorous military academy in upstate New York. A standout on the track, soccer field and in the classroom at La Salle, she will compete for the West Point track team and study engineering.
She was drawn to West Point by the school’s emphasis on character development.
“At West Point you get the academic experience and athletic experience, but you also work on your character, your leadership and that was very interesting to me because yes, I can run fast and I can be a star student, but what am I as a person? How am I leading people? That’s important for me,” said Comeau. “I want to be a good person. I want to have good values and lead people in a motivational way. That (emphasis on character building) was a big drawing factor (to West Point) for me.”
There will be little time to celebrate her graduation and all her success at La Salle. She won’t be able to enjoy a South County summer hanging out with her friends on the beaches near her home. She leaves for West Point in late June.
In fact, she may be forced to fall short of one of her goals – winning a state outdoor championship. Comeau hasn’t been given the exact date of her departure yet, but has been given an idea of when she will leave – June 26, 27 or 28. The state meet is scheduled for June 26 with a rain date of June 27. She is hoping she receives confirmation this week.
Regardless of whether or not she will wear her running sneakers and Maroon La Salle uniform one last time at the state meet, she will be ready. She is up for the West Point challenge. Comeau has always been up for the challenge.
“Jackie has been the epitome of what every student-athlete should be. She is hardworking, dedicated, smart, willing to sacrifice, and is a great teammate. All of those attributes have made her so successful. She has been a member of seven state championship teams in soccer and track and field,” said longtime La Salle Athletic Director Ted Quigley.
A three-sport athlete and exceptional scholar, she is one of the top scholar athletes to attend La Salle. Her competitive spirit and drive for success have been instrumental to both the La Salle track and soccer teams’ success.
Comeau has also earned first team All-State honors four times. A leader, she has served as the captain of both the indoor and outdoor track teams.
She is equally as impressive in the classroom where she is a straight A student, always has been.
Comeau said her motivation comes from parents who emphasize the importance of striving for success, dedication and always putting in the extra work.
“My parents have been a huge support system,” said Comeau. “They push us to be the best we can be, to not accept average and practice outside on our own, not just with the team.”
She is the youngest of three driven scholar-athletes. Her brother, Jason, a former hockey and baseball player at Bishop Hendricken, is currently in medical school. Her sister, Jamie, plays Division I hockey at Providence College.
“I have two older siblings who are always willing to help me out on the track or play pass with a soccer ball,” said Comeau. “They are both competitive and successful. My mom is an electrical engineer and is super smart. She is always willing to help us succeed educationally. It goes back to my family. I see what everyone else has done and it has trickled down to me.
“I definitely compete against myself and we’re all just competitive amongst each other,” she added. “That definitely helps push me.”.
Her drive has translated into success.
“Jackie is one of the most gifted athletes I’ve had the privilege of coaching in my 26 years at La Salle Academy,” remarked La Salle indoor and outdoor track coach Dave Wright. “She stood out the first day of indoor track practice her freshman year and quickly became a major contributor to the teams 4 straight indoor track state championships, culminating last winter with her individual win in the 55 meters and becoming an individual state champion for the first time.
“Her high academic level in the classroom translates well on to the track,” Wright added. “I think she’s able to grasp the goal of certain workouts and the physics of her events better than most athletes. She is a focussed determined individual who has an eye for detail and a very good memory. She doesn’t get too high or too low. These attributes will serve her well at West Point. She will meet and exceed every standard placed before her and there will be no challenge too big or that she can’t handle. I really believe she will achieve great things there as a cadet and wish her nothing but the best. “
Comeau will cherish her many accomplishments during her four years at La Salle.
“There’s no other feeling like coming down the last straight away and having your teammates and family cheering you on and breaking a pr,” said Comeau. “I love track because, while it is an individual sport and you can have achievements on your own, there is also opportunity to come together as a team for team scores as well as relays. We are working towards a team title this season. Everyone’s putting in the work.”
Winning the state championship in soccer this past fall – in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic – may be the most cherished memory of Comeau’s entire high school career. The victory erased the painful sting still felt from a season-ending loss penalty kick in the semifinals last year.
“This year, there was just a lot of motivation between everyone not to have that happen again,” said Comeau, an All-State defender.
If she is still a high school athlete and not yet a cadet in a few weeks, she is hoping to help La Salle to an outdoor championship.
“I’m hoping that I don’t have to report (to West Point) until after the state meet,” said Comeau. “My teammates and I have won an indoor state title, but haven’t won an outdoor state title. We are really working hard to try to do that this year.”
She is training for her final track season at La Salle while simultaneously preparing to be a cadet – both physically and mentally..
“I know I am going to get yelled at, but I can’t let the yelling affect me. I can’t take it personally.,” said Comeau. “I know it’s not going to be easy. I just have to go out there and show them I can do it. “
Ted Quigley sees great success on the horizon for Jackie Comeau. “If the future of our country is in the hands of people like Jackie Comeau, I will sleep very well at night,” he offers.