Prince Jenkins, Jr. : Heir to the Throne

by Ashley Toussaint

Prince Jenkins, Jr. runs for the Jersey City Panthers. He’s qualified for the 9-10 year old AAU Championships as one of the top 100 meter, 200 meter and long jumpers in the nation.

Prince Jenkins, Jr. carries his father’s name, as well as his father’s guidance. The elder Jenkins remembers what it was like growing up without a father. During his youth, he too was an athlete, but not on the track, instead, in the ring. They called him “iron hands” because of the power that was packed in his punches. Prince, Sr. is a member of Black Men Run New Jersey and found his way into running as an adult. Like many members, Prince saw Black Men Run as a healthy outlet and place to build a healthy brotherhood with other black men. As he became more involved in running, he introduced his son to the sport at the tender age of six years old. Prince, Sr. never had a father that was there to support him in that way. So he decided to break the cycle, which was one of the best gifts a father can give his son. 

Prince, Jr. is now nine years old and has held on to that gift that his father shared with him. On July 31st, he along with three of his teammates from the Jersey City Panthers Track Club will be heading to the AAU Track and Field National Championships, in Humble, Texas. Prince will be running and competing against the top runners in the nation. The goal is to win it all. What makes this situation intriguing is that he’s one of the best in the nation, but according to his father, he’s not even competing in his best event. 

A Runner is Born

It was Global Running Day 2020 and the Jenkins’s went to participate in a community mile run event hosted by Fleet Feet in Montclair, just a few towns over from Jersey City. Jr. took off and at just eight years old, he ran a sub-8 minute mile. Beating everyone in his age group and finishing as one of the top overall runners. And most importantly, beating his father. It was at the moment, that they both knew that Jr., had something special. Prince would never lose to his father again. 

With all this talent, his father had to find a place for him to grow and get stronger. So Prince joined the Jersey City Panthers under the coaching of George Chisholm. Coach George, as he is referred to by the community immediately put Prince in the sprints, the 100, 200, and the long jump. Needless to say, he’s had a successful first year with the club. But with that being said, Prince’s father believes that his son’s calling is in the distance races. He believes that his son is truly a miler. Only time will tell. He’s only nine years old and hasn’t begun even to scratch the surface. There’s still much for him to learn about the sport and for him to learn about himself. 

In the meantime, he’s going to enjoy the ride. 

Coming into His Own

Though Prince is one of the fastest nine years olds in the country, he’s still just a kid. This is important to note, especially in a time when there is so much pressure on young athletes. Prince has a host of cousins and extended family, that push him to be better. They compete, have fun and even fight sometimes. That’s what kids do. But one thing is for sure, Prince knows his calling. He knows he’s a runner. If you ask him, he’ll tell you. I’m a “track guy.” 

And though he’s just a kid, his coaches and teammates have the utmost respect for him. So much so, that his coach calls him, “Mr. Prince,” because he’s about his business on the track. 

This quote about Prince’s work ethic was taken from The Jersey Journal, “You know I’m just so proud of these kids,” said coach George Chisholm. “We have been training five days a week at Ferris High School since qualifiers. The kids have been on the track every day, giving 100 percent day in and day out. These kids could be on vacation or out enjoying their summer, but they choose to come down and train instead.” – 

It’s not easy to make it nationals, let alone making it in three events. It’s clear to see that Prince isn’t your typical nine-year-old. And he has not done it on his own. He stands on the shoulders of his family, his community and his father couldn’t be prouder. 

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