By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The face might look familiar to those who support Millington Central High School arts, athletics and academics.
Whether it was in New York’s Carnegie Hall or on the mat during Trojan Wars, Jacob Harrold was there. The No. 11 ranked student in the MCHS’ Class of 2017 has been a member of the Trojan Marching Band, singer in the Millington Chorale and letterman for Trojan Wrestling. Meanwhile he maintain solid grades and scored high enough to be a part of the MCHS 30-Plus Club.
Not bad for a guy who started in Memphis and wonder if Millington could really become his home. Then 14, Harrold arrived to Flag City in time for school to start and he tried to find an outlet through the Band.
“It felt good especially for me coming from Snowden,” he recalled. “There we had a huge band. The band and music are huge deal there. When I came here, it was pretty small. Actually when I came to Millington I wanted to be the anti-teen. I was like uprooted from where I was staying.
“I didn’t want to be here at all,” Harrold acknowledged. “I was dead-set on not liking Millington. I got into the band and I was like, ‘I’m not going to like this.’ But then I met Ms. (Megan) Woodring. She was amazing. Band is what got me really comfortable with being here. It was my one familiar thing.”
Band laid the foundation for Harrold to start accepting his new surroundings and school.
“It was really different,” Harrold said. “Obviously things are lot slower out here. People out here are a lot closer. In Memphis, not everybody knows vaguely who everybody is. So I came here and it was really the football games that gave somebody to root for and support. Everybody was right there supporting with me. So that mutual bond just formed.”
The spirit of Trojan Athletics took over Harrold’s body leading him to join Head Coach William Richardson’s Wrestling program.
“Wrestling helped a lot for me,” he said. “When I was little I have a shorter leg. It’s a medical problem and some of the ways to fix it is they break my leg systemically. Over time they stretch it and it grows. So my parents and doctors didn’t want me to risk damage — so no sports pretty much.
“But I always did karate and jujitsu until I got my black belt in karate,” Harrold added. “And I was always active out side of school. So when I got to Millington I realized they had a wrestling team. That was something I could do. I talked to my Dad and we talked to some of my doctors. And I got on the team and loved it.”
Harrold reached Regionals this past season in the 160-pound division.
“It’s a culmination of the whole year,” he said. “Even though wrestling isn’t normally considered a team sport, it definitely is a team sport because you’re in there 3-4 hours a day with these guys. They’re on the mat supporting you or throwing out suggestions. It’s always sad to see people go. And now it’s me leaving. When you watch people go, it’s a little bit of people out of your life. But when you’re leaving, it’s everything.”
Wrestling season comes each year during the late fall and early winter. This year the 17-year-old made the decision include the choir all year around in his busy schedule.
In addition, the Chorale and director Calvin Ellis had the goal of reaching New York’s Carnegie Hall.
“It was emotional,” Harrold said of singing in the venue. “It was really humbling. Until this year I didn’t have time to sing. So I didn’t invest as much and really didn’t see myself going anywhere with that.
“Now here I am at arguably the most prestigious stage on the earth,” he continued. “And I’m here singing with people not just I’ve grown to like, but I love these people. It just made me feel like, ‘Wow there is so much more out there and much more to achieve if I just put my mind to it.’”
With so many highlights in just the past few months, Harrold said his support system has kept him on pace toward being a MCHS Hall of Fame member.
“Getting there was hectic,” Harrold acknowledged. “I had that on top of my job as a lifeguard at the YMCA. It’s crazy. One of the biggest helps were my Dad and my stepmother because she’s always doing the driving. She’s running doing the pick ups and drop offs.
“My Dad as I’ve gotten older I’ve backed off of this,” he added. “But I wanted to be a teenager and say leave me alone. He started keeping distance, but I know he’s still there all the time pushing me. My Mom, even though I don’t live with here, she’s always there saying ‘Oh, that is so great. You can do whatever you put your mind to.’”
Out of all the accomplishments and recognitions, Harrold said seeing his picture in the hallway as part of the 30-Plus Club is special because he lived up to his parent’s expectations.
“It makes me feel proud of myself,” he said. “But it was expected of me. My Mom, the English portion, I can remember in third grade we had a writing assignment. She made me rewrite this assignment 20 times until she was satisfied with what I did. That is what really got me into writing and poetry.
“On the other spectrum, I was in the eighth grade,” Harrold continued. “My Dad lied to me about my TCAP score. He said I didn’t score well enough to be proficient. I went to tutoring all year. I ended up scoring above the 95th percentile . He showed me that I had actually already been there. But he got me ready for it. Both of my parents instill in me academics and this is how you get places in life.”
Harrold said his life as a Trojan has been memorable because of all the time he invested in the Black and Gold.
“I like connecting with people,” he said. “That not only makes memories for me, but I feel like if I tough any of these people and their lives in some way, somehow I can make that one day a little bit better.
“I want people to know they can come back and talk to me,” Harrold concluded. “I want to be involved in my community because I know this is a place I can come back to and lean on. It’ just making those connections that will put me further in life instead of just staying home and reading a book.”