In the Locker Room with Zack Lee, Oberlin’s Star Long Jumper


Photo Courtesy of Oberlin Athletics

Zack Lee prepares to jump at a meet.

Fourth-year Zack Lee has been outstanding as a long jumper for the track and field team during his time at Oberlin. On Jan. 23, he was named North Coast Athletic Conference Athlete of the Week for his performance at the Wooster Invitational in Wooster, OH. The New York native took the top spot in the conference in the long jump with a 22’08” clearance during the meet.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What got you into competing in track? How long have you been doing it?

I started running track in the fifth grade. I was lucky to have a track coach and gym teacher with experience as a world championship coach for professional athletes. His name is Leroy Solomon, and he is currently the assistant coach at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. It was because of him that I started to run and jump initially, and it was also because of him that I continued into high school. While I loved soccer at the time, Leroy recognized the talent I had for jumping, continued to coach me through high school, and then connected me with the track club I would join during my sophomore year, the Bronx Tigers. I have been competing since, aside from my freshman year spent at Binghamton University.

What’s your favorite event?

I enjoy triple jumping more overall. It has always been my second best event, but I enjoy the technique and patience it requires. I think long jumping is more fun though. It’s nice that in long jump, you don’t have to think. You just run as fast as you can and jump into the sand. Triple is harder.

You’ve had quite the career here at Oberlin, highlighted by your winning of NCAC Athlete of the Week last month. Is there anything else you want to accomplish before graduating this spring?

I have goals of making trips to nationals in both events. I would love to break the school records and win conference again as well, but if the initial goal of nationals happens, the others will as well. Oberlin track and field has been very successful so far this year. What do you think has helped your team have as much success as it has? I think the time and effort we have put into bonding as a team has paid off. Winter Term definitely helped. We all have big goals, and we know each other’s goals and hold each other accountable. There’s no weak links. The horizontal jumps have a solid group — shout out the horz. crew — sprints and hurdles have a solid group, the throws and distance have solid groups. We are all happy to be around each other and are excited to practice hard together, and that has allowed us to be successful thus far, and hopefully continue to be.

What’s your favorite part about being a student athlete in an environment like Oberlin?

I have enjoyed the ability to leave practice and do other things. I get to attend concerts, be a part of student groups, and hang out with my friends. The coaches and team as a whole encourage that. A lot of my work outside of track revolves around the Asian Diaspora Coalition, which I am chair of, and I am excited that we get to host and organize the annual Asian Night Market — this year it’s May 5, so mark your calendar. Track is a break from my extracurricular and academic work and vice versa.

What’s in store for you after graduation?

I’m not sure yet. I hope I get a chance to travel — as a result of COVID-19 and track, I didn’t get to go abroad. However, I was lucky enough to visit my girlfriend in Seville last year and was wildly jealous, so I hope to do something similar.