Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé senior James Connally recently signed to attend Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, Oregon, and compete on the Mountaineers track and field team.
“It’s a great program,” Connally said. “Not just for track but also to further my education. I love the coaches, all the talks we had. It’s just a nice fit.”
The Mountaineers are an NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) school in the Cascade Collegiate Conference and are coached by Ben Welch, considered one of the premier coaches in the sport.
Connally said Eastern Oregon University will get “a hard worker who will show up every day and give it their all. Who will work with them and try and better not just myself but the team…”
The Mountaineers track and field program has been national champions over 23 times and has produced over 200 All-Americans, over 550 National Track and Field Qualifiers and over 120 NAIA Academic All-Americans.
JDHS track and field coach Daria Horne said Connally is a great fit for the Mountaineers both as an athlete and a person.
“James doesn’t have an ego, which is really tough for high school sports at his age,” Horne said. “I think what he is going to bring to his Oregon school is drive, determination… he was one of the few kids who showed up for preseason. Some days he was the only kid there in the weight room with me as we were doing preseason. So showing up in December when kids haven’t shown up until February is a big tell there. He is coachable, and I know that is kind of a cliche but he listens to the coaches and then implements what we tell him to do.”
Connally plans to study accounting. He said his long-term goals are “to be a good person for the community and to make sure my family situation is good… just better my family and the community.”
Connally said his advice to young track and field athletes is “if you stick with it, it’s going to work out. You are always going to have fun, you are always going to be able to put your all in it no matter what. There will be events that are tailored to you… no matter what, you will find something you enjoy.”
Above - Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé senior James Connally, with father Chris and mother Melissa, holds his letter of intent to attend and run track at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, Oregon. Below - Members of the Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé track and field team stand around senior James Connally after he signed a letter of intent to attend and run track at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, Oregon. (Klas Stolpe/KINY)