AURORA | Malia Jimerson never got to (officially) land the triple jump that would have put her in Gateway High School’s recordbooks, but she landed something bigger for her school and for herself.
The accomplished student-athlete and multiple-sport letterwinner — who lost her senior year in track and field due to the coronavirus pandemic — was informed late last week that she was one of five winners of a prestigious Lynch Family Legacy Scholarship.
The scholarships of $24,000 meted over four years get award annually by the foundation set up by former Denver Broncos player John Lynch. Jimerson, who plans to attend the University of Northern Colorado, got the joyous news online Friday.
“My brain honestly hasn’t caught up to it yet,” Jimerson told the Sentinel. “They told me they would email in a couple of weeks and that was in March, so after a long time, I got this random email that said can you you talk? Right after the interview they said can you meet up for a follow-up?
“I thought that was kindof fast, then I opened up the meeting and other winners were there with me. Then John Lynch came and sat down on the couch and said ‘Congrats!'”
Jimerson and her mother, Rori, assumed that the absence of news since she applied for the scholarship in March — a stretch of time that included the arrival of the coronavirus — might have been bad news.
It turned out not to be so for Jimerson, who got the icing on the cake of her time in high school, which saw her earn eight academic letters, seven athletic letters (three in track & field, two in volleyball and two in basketball) and finish sixth in Gateway’s senior class. She also took part in a play and held down a job among all that.
“I love my daughter and I’m not one of those braggy parents, but if she wasn’t my kid, I still would be admirable of her because of her work ethic,” Rori Jimerson said. “She’s a really good kid.”
Rori Jimerson, who attended Gateway back in the 1980s and has spent the last 17 years working at her alma mater believes her daughter’s win of the scholarship will be quite meaningful to the school.
“It is really such a blessing, for not just our family, but for our school, our kids and our community,” she said. “You could have the same thing happen at a Cherry Creek school or Denver or Douglas County and you probably wouldn’t hear much about it, but if something bad happens at our school, you hear about it right away. That’s not fair.
“We have really good, smart kids that deserve to go to school and deserve to be safe and deserve their education.”
Gateway athletic director Brendan Netherton nominated Jimerson for one of the Lynch Foundation’s Star of the Month awards (which she won back in October) and he was very pleased when he got the news of the scholarship from her excited mother.
“Malia really deserves it; that kid works so hard,” Netherton said.
Jimerson took gym class from Casey Powell — who is now the athletic director for Aurora Public Schools — at several stops growing up and was coached by him at Aurora Quest K-8. She credits Powell and Gateway track coach Marty Wittmer for helping her tremendously in her athletic career.
“I am so happy for her,” Powell said. “Such a deserving kid and family.”
The 6-foot-1 Jimerson was the Gateway girls basketball team’s leading shot-blocker and second-leading rebounder in the winter season as an All-EMAC honor mention selection after she had the second-most blocks and kills for the volleyball team in the fall.
Her one regret is the loss of her last season on the track.
Jimerson had a very reachable goal ahead of her for the season: setting the school record in the triple jump. Why was that so important to her? Because Rori holds the record of 35 feet, 9 inches, set by back in 1989.
Jimerson won the EMAC championship in the triple jump last season with a leap of 34-8 and she had a personal best of 34-10 1/2 set at last season’s Liberty Bell Invitational.
“That would have been the pièce de résistance,” Jimerson said. “I really wanted to do that and my coaches thought that I was going to get it the first meet we had.”
Jimerson will try to compete at Northern Colorado, where she is excited to pursue a career in teaching. She also plans to coach in the future as well.
Two other Aurora prep athletes were among the handful of winners of the Lynch Family Legacy Scholarships in Grandview baseball standout Tony Castonguay (who is headed to the University of Kansas) and University of Colorado-bound Regis Jesuit soccer standout Braden Murphy.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports