|11-11-2009, 04:50 PM||#1|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Somewhere in Jersey
OT: My article on this amazing player
I rarely ever publicize any articles I do as a sports freelancer but this kid I interviewed for my hometown paper (well not hometown paper but Decatur, Ala. is about 20 miles from my hometown of Huntsville), well his story is truly remarkable.
This kid reminds me of why I love sports, particularly college athletics.
At home in Division III
Ex-East Limestone standout finds family atmosphere, success at Centre College in Kentucky
By Ronak Patel
Many high school football players dream of playing big-time Division I football, especially for the big-name programs, enjoying the bright lights and acclaim that comes with it.
But somtimes a player instead lands at a smaller place where he finds comfort and, most of all, peace of mind.
For Jonathan Pinque, a former East Limestone High football standout, that place is Danville, Ky.
Pinque, a sophomore running back, finished his second season at Division III Centre College on Saturday, leading the team in rushing yards with 940 yards and 10 touchdowns. His yardage also led the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference.
“All of us at one at one time think or dream of playing D-I or D-II football and even in the pros,” Pinque said. “But I don’t really care for that, playing D-I. We have it here. Everything you do there is here. We watch film, have tough practices and play on Saturdays.
“I love my teammates, the coaching staff and I’m not missing out on anything.”
Despite a tough 27-17 setback this past Saturday to Trinity University that ended the team’s season and its hopes of winning the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, Pinque’s contributions to the team and off the field have not gone overlook.
Pinque won the conference player of the week honors two times this season and was named the SCAC Character & Community male student athlete of the week Oct. 11. Pinque works in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program and also helped with the clean-up of Danville following last year’s winter storm.
“There are middle school kids looking up to athletes. It can be any level, the pros, college or high school — and we’re being watched by others,” Pinque said. “It’s vital to treat others with respect and be respectful because people will remember that.”
Born in Haiti, Jonathan was adopted at the age of 2 by Audre Pinque and relocated to California. The Pinque family moved Mexico when he was 7 before heading to North Alabama in 2001.
“I don’t remember much about Haiti,” Pinque said.
When Pinque was 12, Audre died. Thus, the backbone of Pinque’s life was now his grandfather, Ralph, and his uncle, Blair, who has autism.
On June 30, Ralph past away. Pinque’s teammates gave him support he needed.
“(My team) was really there for me,” Pinque said. “I came to Kentucky and trained in the summer, but after his passing, a couple of my teammates flew down right away and (head coach Andrew Frye) came down for three to four days, helping me with funeral arrangements.
“It’s amazing the help they gave me, and I don’t know what would’ve happened if I went to another school.”
Frye and the staff also assisted in helping Jon’s uncle relocate to Danville.
“My uncle lives a block from campus and he comes to all of the home games,” Pinque said. “My grandfather used to come to all of my games, and he made be believe I can really conquer anything.
“My uncle loves watching me play, and with him being here, it’s also like having my grandfather around.”
Life or death
On March 20, 2005, Pinque endured a life-changing event while only 16 and still a student at East Limestone.
He was hanging out at his home in Toney when several of his friends came over. One of them came over in a new car. After visiting outside for a bit, several of them wanted to go take a spin in the new vehicle.
“When they took off, I went back in, was on the phone and heard a loud bang,” Pinque said.
The bang was the car hitting the pond across the street from Jon’s house. Five of his friends were in the car, but three of them managed to escape before the car began submerging in the water. Two of his friends, Jacob Bobby Green and Ricky Jaramillo, were still stuck inside the car.
“I chased towards the pond and jumped in,” Pinque said. “I tried to unlock the doors, and the water was rising. (Jacob’s) eyes were really big, and I couldn’t pry open the door.
“I began freaking out and I get out of the water to regroup. I was telling myself, ‘Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! I can’t do anything to get them out.’ ”
Although he was panicked, Pinque realized that his brother had a lot of tools in the garage and he went looking for something that would aid him in prying the car door open. Pinque stumbled across a metal dumbbell he worked out with a lot during his playing days at East Limestone. He picked it up and ran back.
“I run back, jump back in and this time, I’m on top of the car,” Pinque said.
By this time, the car was completely submerged in the pond and to Pinque’s recollection, his friends had been trapped inside between 10 to 15 minutes. Pinque used the dumbbell to break open the sunroof and grabbed Ricky out first.
Then Pinque reached for Jacob and by the tip of his fingertips, Pinque was able to grab his friend and pull him out of the car.
“I was barely able to grasp onto his fingers,” Pinque said. “By the time I got him out, the ambulance was there. (Jacob) had that death look and he wasn’t moving.
“But they administered CPR to him and he began coughing, so thankfully, everything turned out OK.”
Green and Jaramillo required hospital treatment, and so did Pinque, who sustained cuts.
Pinque’s deed didn’t go unnoticed. Pinque was nominated for the Carnegie Medal for heroism, which is awarded by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. Time went by, and one day, upon returning home from football practice, Pinque was informed he won the award.
“It was surreal. I didn’t know who nominated me for the award and I forgot about it,” Pinque said. “Then I had a bad day at football practice, and to see that, I couldn’t believe it.”
Pinque was rewarded with $4,000 and most importantly, a $10,000 thousand scholarship award for every year he pursues undergraduate and graduate school studies.
The scholarship money allowed Pinque to get an education and play football at Centre College. Although he doesn’t have a major declared, his plan is to major in international studies and Spanish.
“It couldn’t turn out better for me,” Pinque said. “I want to do a lot of traveling and whatever lies down the road, I’m ready for the experiences that will come my way.”