BY JENNIFER CROWLEY
The town of Wheatland recently announced that this year’s 5K race through the village of Scottsville will not only continue to honor the life of late high school soccer coach Mike Skivington, but will also pay tribute to Jill Skivington Jackett as well. Mike Skivington died at the age of 61 in January 2017 from the effects of a brain tumor; Jill Jackett, a distant cousin and friend of Mike’s, sadly lost her life following a hit-and-run accident last November. The 38-year-old Jackett was a Wheatland-Chili High School teacher, drama club director and avid long distance runner.
The first SkivStrong 5K was held in conjunction with the Scottsville Family Fun Festival in August 2017. The race was re-named that year in memory of Mike, an athlete himself who spent 13 seasons coaching the Wheatland-Chili Boys’ Varsity Soccer team. He was a runner that enjoyed training on the village streets and sidewalks. In fact only days after undergoing surgery, he was out running. Mike’s family and network of friends came out strong for the inaugural race. According to his daughter Jena who participated in last year’s run, “It was a humbling experience to see all of the people who have been touched by Skiv. We miss him every day and I could really feel him out there today with all of us. He was cheering us on from above.”
While Mike grew up in Spencerport and later moved to Wheatland, Jill Skivington Jackett was born and raised in the community. After graduating from Wheatland-Chili in 1997, she earned a degree in vocal performance from West Virginia University. She later earned her master’s degree in English education at St. John Fisher College. She was beloved by her students who often talk of her quick sarcasm, love of theatrical arts and intensely competitive spirit. She cemented a name for herself in local running circles having won the Rochester Marathon in both 2007 and 2008. Only weeks prior to her tragic death she had completed the New York City Marathon in just over three hours.
Beyond sharing a last name, both Mike and Jill deeply touched the lives of students they interacted with. Former student Maddie Hogue who played the lead role of Peter in the highly ambitious 2017 production of Peter Pan said that “Miss Skiv” as Jill Jackett was called taught her students to fly “literally and figuratively.” She added that “From her we all learned to not be afraid of failure but to embrace the challenges and the learning opportunities that coincide with the process of success.”
As a testament to her commitment to enriching the lives of students Jill Jackett received a Wheatland-Chili Graduate of Excellence Award posthumously at the Class of 2018 graduation ceremony this past June. Her mother Lynne was a district teacher many years ago and like her daughter, was also an outstanding educator that previously had been recognized with a Graduate of Excellence Award.
Mike Skivington was a dedicated coach who pushed his student athletes to be their best for their own benefit, so that they could enjoy their own success on the field and apply that earned confidence to other aspects of life. Mike himself played soccer for Spencerport during the 1970s helping the Rangers win two Section V titles. He went on to play for Monroe Community College and then at Cortland State where he received all-conference honors in 1977.
The SkivStong 5K Challenge will take place starting at 9:00 AM on Saturday, August 18 from Johnson Park on Browns Avenue. The fee to enter prior to August 15th is $18 and proceeds will benefit the Mike Skivington Memorial Fund and the Geva Summer Curtain Call in memory of Jill Skivington Jackett. Prizes will be awarded for different age groups.
Though both Mike and Jill were outstanding athletes, race organizers encourage everyone, even walkers, to come out and honor two of the community’s finest members. More information is available at http://www.townofwheatland.org/recreation-department.