Saturday Spotlight- John Oakley

Name John Oakley
Age 53
Occupation: Supervisor County Toxic Waste removal
Partner in crime: Dawn Testa
Children: (2) Nicholas 20, Mathew 16.
Hometown: East New York, Brooklyn
Current residence: Bayport
Education: John Adams high school
NYC technical college
City college of New York.
Chemistry/Engineering major.
As you can see I grew up in one of the worse neighborhoods in the city. I lived in an area were it was common to see violent crimes being committed. I could write a book on some of the things I have seen. As a child my family life was not good. My father being a vet from World War 2 left the war with issues that many men have. Too much drinking and a violent temper. As a child I played sports to escape my family life. I used to play a lot of baseball, football, and handball. I often worked out at home lifting weights. At 13 years old I often would be at the park playing handball. I hung out with a rough older crowd in the park. I would be at the handball court from morning to night, playing against some of the best handball players from all over Brooklyn and Queens; I rarely lost. At the age of 14, I changed the crowd that I hung out with because I was going in the wrong direction.
My sophomore year in High School I went from the high school annex to the main building. Now I was mixed in with the older kids. During gym class we used to get 30 mins of free time at the start of gym. I couldn’t get into a basketball game because I didn’t know any of the older kids in school. Our school had an indoor track so I used to go up there and run. I started running a couple of miles a day at about a six minute pace. I started to enjoy running and I joined the cross country track team. Our coach never had a practice. He was a math teacher and didn’t know anything about running. He would meet us at the cross country meets and that was the only time we saw him. I had to train myself and I didn’t know what I was doing. My workouts consisted of a couple of 3 mile runs every week. I would run the 3 mile course at Cunningham Park in about 18:25 mins. I usually finished in fifth or sixth place overall. I was getting frustrated because I wasn’t even close to winning a race. I was used to dominating a sport when I played it, and now I couldn’t. I ran almost the same times for three years. In my senior year after running 18:25 again, I realized that I had to make some major changes in my training. I started running 40 laps a day on the quarter mile track (10 miles) and then doing a mini speed workout right afterwards. On the weekend, I would do a long run about 14 miles with some weight training. I was able to bring down my time by almost four minutes to 14:45 and won my last three dual meets. I never trained on hills and was in for a shock when I had to race for the Queens Championship at Van Cortland Park in the Bronx. I took the lead early on, only to die a slow death on the hills. I stopped running after that race. About 17 years later, in 1996 I was working a shitty schedule, gaining weight and after a couple of fights at work were my blood pressure went up too high; I started to realize that I needed to start running again.
I feel it shows if you really try hard, you can get better at something that you’re not really good at and in the end you might surprise yourself. This is what I see so many Selden Hill Warriors accomplishing and I’m glad to be part of such a determined and inspirational group.

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