KCHS grad­u­ate en­joys her Olympic mo­ment

Kent County News - - NEWS - By TR­ISH MCGEE pm­cgee@thekent­coun­tynews.com

KENNEDYVILLE — Most of us have been there, metaphor­i­cally speak­ing. Our heart beat­ing a lit­tle faster, a lump form­ing in our throat and our eyes tear­ing up as the Amer­i­can flag is raised dur­ing the Olympic medal cer­e­monies. Jior­dan Carter was there. Re­ally. The 20-year-old Kennedyville woman spent two weeks at the Par­a­lympic Win­ter Games last month in Pyeongchang, South Korea. She wit­nessed his­tory when Team USA won an un­prece­dented third con­sec­u­tive gold medal in men’s sled hockey with its thrilling 2-1 over­time vic­tory over Canada. In what she de­scribed as in­cred­i­bly good for­tune, Carter, study­ing abroad in the Ge­orge Ma­son Univer­sity Korea pro­gram, was as­signed to “ac­cess con­trol” (i.e. check­ing cre­den­tials) at the hockey rink on the night of the gold medal game. She saw the United States score the ty­ing goal with only 37 sec­onds re­main­ing in reg­u­la­tion and watched the medal cer­e­mony from the sec­ond level of the Gangneung Hockey Cen­tre. She was back at her as­signed post near the Amer­i­cans’ locker room as they came off the ice, giv­ing her an up-close-and-per­sonal look at the newly crowned Olympic cham­pi­ons. And yes, Carter said, she felt enor­mous pride in be­ing an Amer­i­can, es­pe­cially when “The Star-Span­gled Ban­ner” was played dur­ing the medal cer­e­mony. A 2015 grad­u­ate of Kent County High School, where she was a triple-threat ath­lete and mem­ber of the Na­tional Honor So­ci­ety, Carter is a ju­nior with a 3.3 grade point av­er­age at Ge­orge Ma­son Univer­sity in Fair­fax, Va. She is en­rolled in a five-year pro­gram that will al­low her to earn a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in sports man­age­ment and a master’s de­gree in in­ter­na­tional sports man­age­ment. She spent the fall se­mes­ter in Lon­don earn­ing 12 cred­its while an in­tern for the United King­dom’s largest so­cial sports and fit­ness pro­gram for adults, Go Mam­moth. The first week of Fe­bru­ary, she headed to South Korea, where Ge­orge Ma­son has a cam­pus. She re­turned to the United States at the end of March and was home last week­end to spend Easter with her mother Jana Carter. Jior­dan Carter is back in Fair­fax, where she is sit­ting in on a col­lege class on gov­er­nance and pol­icy of sports, liv­ing off-cam­pus and look­ing for a job that will carry her through the sum­mer. “It’s al­ways nice to come back home ... for like a week,” she said dur­ing an in­ter­view Fri­day at her home. “But I want to travel, I want to work abroad, es­pe­cially after the Lon­don ex­pe­ri­ence.” Carter de­scribed her time in Lon­don as “life al­ter­ing.” She’d been to Cal­i­for­nia and on a cruise to the Carib- bean is­lands, but this was the first time she had trav­eled with­out fam­ily. Now she was a grown-up and on her own, ex­plor­ing the city of Lon­don, nav­i­gat­ing pub­lic transportation and work­ing full time. She ac­knowl­edged be­ing home­sick and chal­lenged by the “in­de­pen­dence of daily life.” But those feel­ings faded soon enough. She em­braced her new­found free­dom, ven­tur­ing out to Ox­ford, Paris, Brus­sels and Am­s­ter­dam. Carter learned about the South Korea op­por­tu­nity in Oc­to­ber while she was in Lon­don and, her ap­petite for travel now whet­ted, was ea­ger to sign on. Ge­orge Ma­son has its own cam­pus near Seoul. All classes are taught in English by Ge­orge Ma­son fac­ulty. Carter took a field trip to the Olympics in mid-Fe­bru­ary, where she watched Nor­way de­feat Slove­nia in men’s ice hockey. She re­turned to Pyeongchang in March, spend­ing two weeks as a vol­un­teer at the Par­a­lympic Win­ter

Games. Volunteers — in­clud­ing sports man­age­ment and tourism ma­jors at­tend­ing Ge­orge Ma­son Univer­sity Korea — were housed in a rented-out moun­tain re­sort. That’s be­cause it was about a two-hour drive from the Ma­son cam­pus to the Win­ter Games venues. Volunteers were dressed alike: North Face ski pants, parka and book bag — all with the Pyeongchang em­blem. Carter mod­eled her parka dur­ing Fri­day’s in­ter­view and showed off the book bag and the in­ter­na­tional pins she had col­lected. Carter ac­knowl­edged feel­ing “awk­ward” for the first week in South Korea — she stood out as an Amer­i­can and a woman of color, she said — but after that “I was fine. I wasn’t un­com­fort­able.” The three semesters of Korean she had taken as a col­lege fresh­man and sopho­more gave her more than a tourist’s knowl­edge of the lan­guage. She was en­am­ored by the “high-tech” cul­ture and ef­fi­ciency of mass transportation, but un­der­whelmed by the cui­sine. Carter’s fi­nal day as a stu­dent in Korea was March 25, and the time passed quickly — maybe too quickly. “I liked Korea. I wish I could have stayed longer, but I needed to get back ... to get more in­volved in school ac­tiv­i­ties,” she said. It’s cliché, but Carter’s eyes have been opened to the vast world be­yond the mid-Atlantic re­gion. She wants to re­turn to Korea. South Amer­ica and South Africa also are on her list of must-sees. Has Kent County seen the last of Jior­dan Carter? “I’ll come back ev­ery now and then,” she promised.

PHOTO BY TR­ISH MCGEE

Jior­dan Carter, a 2015 Kent County High School grad­u­ate, mod­els the of­fi­cial Par­a­lympic Win­ter Games parka she wore as a vol­un­teer last month in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

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