PLAINVILLE - August 17, 2003 changed Kathie Wynkoop’s life forever. That was the day she brought home her 1-year-old son EJ.
“She adopted me when there were a lot of issues going on,” said EJ, who committed to run track at CCSU this upcoming fall. “I overcame a lot of obstacles. That’s part of the reason why I do what I do because I started at such a low point in my life.”
Kathie brought EJ home as a foster child from the Department of Children and Families (DCF). When he came home he was malnourished and underdeveloped.
“We worked with him to get him healthy,” Kathie said. “Once he learned what it was like to walk, he ran and never stopped running. He ran and ran and ran.”
EJ was an athlete right from the very beginning. He played with the Plainville Colts Pop Warner football team and then stopped for two years to give soccer a try. Once he got to high school, EJ was back on the football field as well as the track.
“I got to know EJ in two sports,” Plainville football and track coach Tim Shea said. “He’s a good kid. He was dealt a rough hand growing up but he has made his way through it and he’s turned into quite a fine young man. It’s great to see him grow into the person he is today and I can’t wait to see what he does when he gets out of here, the next phase, next chapter in life it’s something we look forward to watching.”
EJ was first introduced to track and field in sixth grade.
“Then, I didn’t know what I could do or what my abilities were,” EJ said. “I tried the long jump and the mile, but I am not a distance runner. Then I tried sprinting and I found I was really good at that and I stuck with sprinting after that.”
“Running is just something I like to do in my free time,” he added. “I just connect with track. I like to be in my zone when running and with track it’s just a straight line. I really like to run. I can connect and it’s my happy place.”
That led him to being noticed by CCSU, where he will join the track program in the fall as a preferred walk-on.
“He is in very good hands at Central,” Shea said. “Coach Eric Blake has a great program. I have had other kids run there too so I know it’s a good fit. He’s close to home so we can go watch. I’m glad he’s in a good spot.”
During the college-looking processes, EJ looked at many schools, but nothing felt quite like home as CCSU did.
“I wanted him to go away,” Kathie said. “His best friend lives in Texas and we had a plan that they were going to go together. He insisted that we went to UConn. We got halfway through the tour and he says, ‘Mom I want to go home.’ One day he was in the laundry room and I said, ‘EJ why don’t you want to go away, why do you want to stay close to home?’ He said, ‘I don't want to leave you.’”
But from where EJ started to where he is now, those at know EJ couldn’t be prouder of what he’s been able to do.
“He’s just an amazing young man,” Kathie said. “My husband and I are beyond words proud of him and all of his accomplishments that he endeavored on his own. We can't say it enough, we’re very, very proud parents.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860)801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org