Shortly before an 800-meter race in Huntington Beach, Calif., Silverado High School distance runner Jon Aman sits quietly, off in his own mind, not worrying about what’s going on around him. Then a local runner interrupts him, asking about his personal best for the 800.
“I don’t know, 2:40?” Aman humbly says with a smile. Twenty minutes later, he would run the 800 in a flat 2 minutes.
Aman’s time actually came as no surprise, considering he holds personal bests that well exceed regional times, such as a 1:59 for 800 meters, a 52.39-second at 400 meters and a 4:42 for 1,600 meters. Along with those achievements on his track resume, he has gone to state for the 4-by-800-meter and 4-by-400-meter relays. Perhaps these are the reasons he was noticed by Dickinson State University and given a full scholarship to run track and cross-country.
Aman has found inspiration from Silverado track alumni Dante Carter, Solomon Bennet and Sean Zurko, who is the current distance coach. But there’s another source of motivation .
“I get the hard-work mentality from my mom and dad,” Aman says. His parents are living examples of people who found the American dream, which wasn’t achieved easily. Both escaped as teenagers from the African nation of Eritrea during a time of bloodshed and war. From the turmoil they left behind, his parents were able to make new starts, working in Israel and Germany, where they met. They eventually found their way to America, and today his mother is with room service for Bally’s and his father is a food server at Planet Hollywood Resort.
Not only does Aman find inspiration in others, he inspires others. Every day during practice or at a track meet he is at the front of the warm-up lap, leading stretches and cheering on his teammates. His voice resonates , probably audible to nearby rivals such as Liberty and Coronado high schools.
Aman’s acts of leadership form the backbone of Silverado’s track team.
“He’s more than just my friend and my teammate; he’s like a brother,” fellow distance runner Shawn Thomas says. “My proudest moments in high school have been running alongside him.”
Besides running track, Aman has run varsity cross-country and played basketball for Silverado. He also leads a busy academic life and is president of Silverado’s Black Student Union, a member of National Honor Society and the Senior Class Committee, is an AP Ambassador and plays alto saxophone for Silverado’s marching band.
Like many others his age, Aman enjoys watching and playing basketball and listening to music . He’s also been a fan of roller-skating for the past 10 years.
He hopes to become a pediatrician or pharmacist.
As his high school career nears the end, Aman’s race isn’t over.
“I want to leave Silverado with something more,” he says. “I want to leave a continuing legacy.”