A Shot at Success

by University Relations

A former inner-city kid turned collegiate athlete, Jason Wyatt ’93 proves that passion, prayer, and perseverance ultimately pay off. The six-time national champion shotputter and All-American linebacker now pays it forward by inspiring sports-minded youths to work hard and follow their dreams.

Adopted at just five days old, Wyatt grew up in South Central Los Angeles with two loving and God-fearing parents. “Some people would consider my neighborhood rough, but I just saw it as a part of life,” said Wyatt. “Most of my childhood days were spent in church and playing sports.” Although living in a big city presented potential distractions, Wyatt’s affinity for sports, combined with his parents’ encouragement and moral compass, kept him future-focused. By his senior year in high school, Wyatt had won the L.A. City Championship twice in the shot put, advanced to the state finals in the shot put, and visited Azusa Pacific University, where he met Terry Franson, Ph.D., current senior vice president for student life/dean of students and a former Olympic track coach. Despite his athletic successes and strong academic performance, Wyatt opted to attend junior college. Two years later, through God’s provision, Wyatt transferred to APU for his junior year and competed on the track team. He dominated the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics shot put event for three consecutive years and threw a career-best 58’8” at the 1992 championship meet, a mark that ranked fourth best at the time and remains fifth best in school history. In football, he led his team both years in tackles and recorded 171 career tackles, including 14 tackles for loss and 8 sacks. That intensity continues to characterize his approach to work and life. In addition to working full time as a project manager for Kaiser Permanente and serving as an assistant pastor for the Revolution Mark 16/20, a new ministry in San Diego, he coaches young athletes at Flo-Jo International, a San Diego-based nonprofit youth track and field program. “Youth sports should be fun, but also teach the principle that hard work pays off, and, if coached properly, will build that young athlete’s self-esteem,” said Wyatt, who introduces kids ages 5–18 to the principles of all throwing events. “I’m honored that I have a vehicle to help me impart my track and field knowledge, but it’s also been a place where I actively share my faith. I do my best to live a life of victory and remind the youth and families I serve that through Christ all things are possible. God has blessed me tremendously and I want others to know that He will do the same for and through them. “Whether it’s on the track or the field, at home, or on the job, I believe we’re all called to serve and share the love of Christ,” said Wyatt, a devoted husband to his wife, Tinika, and father of four, all of whom are active in multiple sports. “I challenge my own children and the kids I coach with the advice Coach Franson gave me years ago when he paraphrased Galatians 6:4: ‘The real measure of success is not what you do compared to others, but what you do compared to your own best.’”

Originally published in the Winter '13 issue of APU Life. Download the PDF or view all issues.