Jason Sutton recently began his first season at JJC as an assistant coach for the JJC cross country team. He's not new to JJC, though: as a former student, he competed on the first-ever JJC cross country team in 2005. Sutton is also a military veteran. Learn more about him in the profile below, and what he hopes to bring to JJC as a coach in the athletic department.
1.) He's served three tours overseas in the Army.
As a U.S. Army veteran, Sutton has completed two tours in Iraq and one in Qatar as a military policeman. He served as a non-commissioned officer (NCO) and team leader for five years.
"One of the greatest things about being in the military is that you learn a lot of discipline and structure," he said. "That translates very well to my job as a JJC athletic coach."
2.) One tour of duty interrupted his time at JJC, and he came back and made a promise to himself.
When Sutton first came to JJC in 2005 from Galesburg High School and joined the first cross-country team, it wasn't necessarily his dream sport. He originally had his sights set on football. But even after his first tour of duty interrupted his time at JJC, he came back in 2006 with a fresh resolve to improve as a runner.
"I set a goal for myself to really improve my cardio," Sutton said. "So I worked on staying active all year round, and significantly reduced my mile time."
His hard work paid off. He went from running a mile in 8-9 minutes to being a 6:30 mile runner, which earned him a chance to run in the NJCAA Division III championship race.
3.) He's hoping to help motivate his cross country students to succeed with one simple idea.
"It's all about setting a goal for yourself, no matter how small it may be," Sutton said. "If you have a goal in mind, you will always have something to be working toward. Otherwise, as I tell the students, 'why are you doing this?'"
4.) He can't wait to see the team grow and expand in future seasons.
Sutton enjoys working alongside head coach Rich McCarthy to shape the cross-country students into competitive athletes. In fact, as their 2016 season recently closed, one student finished 9th in the NJCAA Division III national championship, earning All-American honors.
"I would love to see us put JJC on the map as a competitive cross-country school," he said. "Significant strides have been made with the team over the last few years, and I really look forward to see where we can take it in the future."
5.) He enjoys reading the Harry Potter books.
Sutton says that reading books for fun isn't a common past time for him, but he found that he loved the Harry Potter series.
"What I liked about the Harry Potter books was that they always kept you in suspense that you just wanted to keep on reading," he said. "Every chapter seemed to mean something. I feel the movies don't do the book justice because they seem to leave out important details!"
For more information about the JJC Cross Country team, visit http://www.jjc.edu/athletics/womens-cross-country/Pages/default.aspx