Ocala Homegrowns Make America Proud

Kylie McAllister, Editor-in-Chief

I am from a small town in Florida called Belleview, but when people ask where I’m from I just say Ocala. Born at Ocala Regional Medical Center, I have sisters that attended Trinity Catholic and almost all of my family resides in the 352. While my address line said Belleview, Ocala is my hometown.

I happen to share the same hometown with Olympic Speed Skaters Brittany Bowe and Erin Jackson. A dynamic duo who’s talents originated in warm sunny Florida and it comes as no shock that these girls are the best representation for speed skating and Team USA in this years Olympics. Earlier this year when number 1 inline speed skater in the world, Erin Jackson slipped up at the Olympic trials and placed third and it was looking as though she would not be competing, but childhood friend and Olympic skater Brittany Bowe gave up her 500 m spot so that Jackson could have the opportunity to compete. Jackson told “People” about Bowe “She’s an amazing friend, teammate, and mentor who is always willing to help me both on and off the ice.” Bowe will continue to compete in the 1,000 m and 1,500 m.

Jackson and Bowe have grown up together having been on the same inline speed skating team and with Bowe being 4 years older than Jackson the transition that Bowe took to ice was shortly followed by teammate Jackson in 2017. It is clear that they both have great talent on ice so this was a easy move for both of them.

On February 13th, Erin Jackson became the first black woman to earn a individual gold medal for Team USA in the Winter Olympics. Standing on the sidelines and being one of the first to congratulate her was of course, Brittany Bowe. Their friendship is beyond admirable and Jackson’s determination and skill that led her to get a gold medal is something so powerful and seeing the pride within both of them is so impressive. “I think it was mostly hugging and tears, but yeah, she was just saying she’s so proud of me. And I was like, ‘We did it!’ Yeah, it was pretty wild.” is what Jackson told “Today” on the moments after her winning and the congratulations and pride that came from Bowe. Bowe told “Today” “Watching her have that gold medal hang around her neck brought me to the biggest tears I’ve cried in a long time.” She went on to call it a honor, which is how I feel coming from the same roots that raised such amazing trailblazers on and off of the skates.

Brittany Bowe was born in Ocala and attended Trinity Catholic High School. Her parents Michael and Deborah Bowe also are from Ocala and her mother even coached my Aunt Dianna’s cheer team! But Brittany Bowe is more than Ocala, she is a pioneer! Brittany is a three time Olympian who has competed in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, and 2014 Sochi Olympics. She has won 7 gold, 8 silver, and 5 bronze in World Championships. In 2018 and 2019, she was named Utah Olympic Female of the Year. She also has been inducted into the Florida Atlantic University Hall of Fame. Bowe has set 4 World Records and still holds the World Record for speed skating 1000 m at 1:1:61. She also won a bronze medal for this years Olympics 1000 m speed skating. She is a amazing inspiration and despite her great career she never forgets her roots. She has went back to Skate A Way South to do some skating with the current inline speed skating team and according to Omar Linares she is a “world-class Olympian” and a “world-class human” and I don’t think I could agree more.

Erin Jackson was born in Ocala and attended Forest High School. She was born to Tracy and Rita Jackson. She has skated since she was eight years old when she tried figure skating, but since has gone beyond figure skating becoming a two time Olympian. She previously competed in the 2018 Winter Olympics when she only had four months of experience. She transitioned from rink to ice in 2017, but before that had a history of being unbeatable at 500 m. In 2014 she won gold medal at the Pan American Championships for 500 m. She also was named United States Olympic Committee Female Athlete of the Year for roller sports in both 2012 and 2013. Jackson was also the first Black woman to win a World Cup race in November of 2021. Her rigorous work outs on and off of the ice also got her physical strength to be acknowledged as one of Sports Illustrated Fittest 50 of 2022. Her mental strength is just as, if not more, admirable as she has broken record after record and was the first American to win a 500 m race since 1994. Jackson told “CBS Mornings” that “It’s never too late to start your impossible. It might seem kind of impossible but you just have to put the work in.” Her impossible is something that very few people succeed at and is incredibly inspiring to girls even beyond Ocala!

Erin Jackson L and Brittany Bowe of the United States take part in a training session at the National Speed Skating Oval in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 30, 2022. (Photo by Wu Wei/Xinhua via Getty Images) (Time)

Brittany Bowe said “It’s crazy that three kids from Ocala just skated in the Olympics,” and for me, the only crazy part about it, is how crazy inspiring it is!