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East Valley athlete Rodrick Fisher experiences breakout year

UPDATED: Wed., April 26, 2017

East Valley football player Rodrick Jackson, center, has committed to play football at Washington State University. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
East Valley football player Rodrick Jackson, center, has committed to play football at Washington State University. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

There are days when immersing yourself in the news can turn you angry, cynical and depressed.

Especially angry.

Finding feel-good news stories is a lifeline that helps keep me sane. Because puppy videos on Facebook aren’t always strong enough to do the job.

There are feel-good news stories out there in great abundance, and I do my best to find those stories and bring them to you on these pages every week. Finding them just takes a little looking and a little digging.

My neighbor is a walking feel-good story. Officially he’s retired, but the way he approaches retirement leaves me exhausted. He keeps a chicken coop to supply his neighbors with fresh eggs, and he fosters pregnant cats so that they have a warm, safe place to have their kittens. He delivers for Meals on Wheels several times a week and helps out his friends and neighbors every chance he gets.

He’s who I want to be when I grow up.

I was touched recently by the story of Katherine Switzer, who became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon in 1967, then returned last week to run the marathon again 50 years later.

There was a recent story about a Florida man who spends his day off scrubbing and cleaning the tombstones of veterans and another about a man in England who steals out at night with a stepladder and masking tape and corrects the bad grammar he finds on the signs in his neighborhood – he’s especially fierce when it comes to a misplaced apostrophe.

One of my favorite feel-good stories comes from our own backyard, and it continues to provide those good vibes we all need.

Rodrick Jackson’s story was told across the country this past fall.

At different times, the East Valley senior had been homeless and living on the street when he wasn’t getting bounced around from family to family.

He finally told his football coach, Adam Fisher, that “I have nobody.”

Fisher stepped in and obtained court-awarded custody of Jackson and just over a year ago, he moved in with Adam, his wife, Jolene, and their two daughters, Sydney and Ally. Adoption followed and Rodrick Jackson became Rodrick Fisher.

The Fishers provided a solid, supportive, loving foundation for a young man desperate for one. More than that, they provided direction and encouragement for a young man struggling with neither. And that foundation and direction have allowed Rodrick Fisher to find his wings.

And he began to soar.

A speedy wide receiver and defensive back for East Valley, Fisher had a stellar senior season with the Knights.

But this spring, he’s opened eyes anew with what he’s accomplished on the track.

A year ago Fisher turned out for track for the first time and turned a few heads by running a 10.9-second 100 meters at the Pasco Invitational before developing shin splints and shutting his season down.

Fisher ran 10.98 in the 100 in his second meet of this season and turned in a 10.74 in his third. In his return to the Pasco Invitational, he ran a personal best 10.62 to place second by the smallest of margins.

His 200 meter times have been equally stellar. In his first outing this spring he ran 21.75. At Pasco, he won the 200 final with a 21.67 and in his last outing, a dual meet with Great Northern League rival West Valley, he ran a personal best 21.30.

Longtime West Valley track coach Jim McLachlan watched Fisher run at the WV-EV dual meet and told his Facebook followers that he’s for real.

To put those times in perspective, Fisher’s time on the 100 meters is the second fastest time posted by a runner in Washington state this spring at any level – second only to Joseph Gautier’s 10.61 to win that Pasco Invitational final. His 200-meter time is the fastest in the state by a full half-second.

In the fall, the University of Idaho and Texas-El Paso had offered Fisher scholarships and Eastern Washington had expressed interest.

“He’s going to play football and track is an option possibly at whatever school he chooses,” Adam Fisher said.

And, he added, Washington State and Pac-12 rival Utah, as well as Boise State all have scholarship offers on the table. With sprinter’s speed and football instincts, more offers are sure to come.

You will be hearing more about Rodrick Fisher in the years to come. And when you hear about his successes, I hope it brings a smile to your face.

It does to mine.

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