AMHERST, N.S. – The fact that Jake Adams and Jacob Melanson are great athletes is no secret today, but Spring Street Academy teacher Daren White was in on the secret a long time ago.
“They both came through this school and I’m very proud of them,” said White, during a pep rally at Spring Street Academy elementary school in Amherst on Feb. 4.
The two Amherst Regional High School Students will soon be participating in the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta. where 16-year-old Adams competes for Team Nova Scotia in snowboarding and 15-year-old Melanson competes for Team Nova Scotia in hockey.
Before they travel to the games, White took to the mic at the pep rally to talk about their athletic skills in Grades 5 and 6.
“Jake is a legend in our school and he doesn’t even know it,” said White.
And neither do the other Spring Street students.
“I tell the story about Jake every year but I leave the name out, so all the kids have heard the story but they don’t know who kid is.”
Jake became a legend during the Beep Test, an endurance test White runs every year for his Grade 5 and 6 students.
“They stand on one side of the gym and I have a recording, I push play, and then I sit back and watch,” said White. “The sound goes beep, and then they run across the width of the gym, and then they wait for the next beep, and then they run back across.”
The beeps get progressively quicker and, as it goes on, the kids get progressively more tired.
“Some kids do five laps and they’re lying on the bench, they’re done.”
That wasn’t the case for Adams.
“The day Jake was here, he kept running back and forth; and he kept running,” said White. “By the end of it everybody is finished and the other class is lined up at the door waiting to come in, and I’ve got a kid that just won’t stop.”
He wouldn’t even stop after he threw up.
“All of a sudden his Cheerios came out onto the floor all over the place, and then he just kept going and waited for the next beep,” said White. “I said ‘you have to stop,’ and he said ‘why,’ and I said, ‘because you just threw up on the floor.’ He was disappointed at the time.”
Now, after hearing the story, kids often try to make themselves sick during the test.
“I say, ‘No, you can’t make yourself sick, you can’t be the legend, the legend has already gone through the school.’”
Like Adams, Melanson displayed a tenacity that was unusual.
“It did not matter what skill we were doing Jacob had to be tough,” said White. “His athleticism and his abilities brought him to the top of whatever we were doing.”
One game they played was called Bulldozer
“We sit back-to-back, you bend your knees on a ten-foot mat and you start in the middle and we say go,” said White. “You start pushing with your legs and try to drive the other person off the mat.”
Jacob easily plowed everybody off the mat.
“I have never seen anything like him. He is like a cat. I can throw him off the table and he lands on his feet,” said White. “He’s got unbelievable reflexes and great balance. He’s physically able to do anything.”
After playing Bulldozer, White called Melanson’s mom and told her that Jacob should become a wrestler. She said he could do anything else but he was not going to wrestle.
“I was very quiet and said, ‘There’s a young man right there that, no matter what sport he wants to try, he’s going to excel.’”
Those words proved to be true.
White then wished Adams and Melanson success at the Canada Winter Games.
“I know where your heart is and I know where your skills are,” said White. “It’s going to be an amazing winter games and I hope you both do very well, and have fun.”