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Spotlight on Former Athlete: Jack Causey - Track & Field 1968-70
Causey aimed high, won titles
By Bruce Brown
Special to Athletic Network
Jack Causey first tried the high jump in fourth grade, and leaped over 4 feet, 2 inches for his effort.
Of course, that was in the fourth grade.
By the time Causey was through, he had become one of the finest jumpers in USL Ragin' Cajun history, a national champion who defeated Olympians and had his named mentioned with other Olympic stars.
“When I was a kid, I used to jump over fences,” said Causey, who recorded numerous 7-foot leaps at USL and later recorded a 7-foot-2 clearance. “My high school coach (Lee Janis) saw I had talent before I did.”
A four-inch growth spurt between 9th and 10th grades helped accelerate Causey's progress, and soon he was excelling in Louisiana high school meets.
“The Snooks-Derouen Relays in Erath was always a big deal in south Louisiana,” he said. “That was a turning point in my career. Coach had a lot of jumping exercises that I could do.
“Our school had a library on the second floor in back, and there was a closet stairs there. That (up and down drills) was where I did a lot of my running. He was always ahead of his time.”
Causey won the high school high jump at the 1963 Southwestern Relays at USL with a 6-3 effort, and won again at 6-6..5 in 1968 to firmly draw the attention of Cajun coach Bob Cole.
There soon developed mutual admiration between the two, with Cole always having the final word.
“Coach Cole had a system,” Causey said. “He organized the sprinters, and the distance men with John McDonald. He sectioned us out, and it all worked. We were the better for it.
“He treated you right. He would also get on you if you didn't do it right. Then he would get it all back together when it was all over.”
Causey made an immediate impression. In 1969 and 1970, he was the Gulf States Conference champion, an NCAA Division II All-American and the Division II national champion. He also won the NAIA crown.
“I had some early success in the Gulf States meet and Southwestern Relays, so Coach let me compete in meets like the Texas Relays and Drake Relays,” Causey said. “I never really realized I was a national caliber jumper. Then I won two national championships in two years, and I guess that's when I realized. My sophomore year, I developed a cocky attitude, but not overtly. Being the best inspired me.
“I always set goals higher than I could achieve. I wanted to jump over a volleybal net, and never did.”
In later years, Causey has come to know two-time Olympic high jump medalist (silver, bronze) Hollis Conway, and admires the successor to his title of best Cajun high jumper in history.
“Hollis is an awesome guy, who had some awesome achievements,” Causey said. “He makes everybody around him feel comfortable.”
Conway and Causey were among more than 100 Cajuns on hand for a track a and field reunion held during Louisiana Classics weekend this spring, and Causey came away impressed.
“I enjoyed seeing a lot of people I hadn't seen in a long time,” he said. “Track is an individual sport, but you get close to each other. You trust each other. Depend on each other.
“They had a lot of events planned out for us,” he added. “We were able to tour the student performance center, and that was blowing my mind. It's a lot different than when I was here.
“I remember the universal gym at McNaspy. We didn't work much on upper body development. As jumpers, we focused on overall strength and getting longer,”
Causey admits he spent too much time practicing, though, and left USL for Southern California Community College in Costa Mesa, Calif.
“I didn't realize that, (while) you have to go to practice, you also have to go to the classroom,” Causey said. “I was out of school for a semester.”
Family connections landed him at the small, Christian California school, where he was second in the NAIA Nationals in 1973, the champion in 1974, and posted a career-best jump of 7-foot-2.
“There was a little more competition, and that makes you a little better,” Causey said. “They pushed you.”
Still to catch on was the Fosbury Flop, which revolutionized the event.
“Coach tried teach it to me, but it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks,” Causey said. “My best was 7-feet with it.”
Oddly enough, the 7-2 came in a relatively low-key trianguler meet.
“Before the meet, I didn't feel anything special,” Causey said. “It's all about timing and rhythm anyway.”
There were bigger fish to fry.
“You asked me about my greatest satisfaction, and about five things ran through my mind,” he said. “Being able to do it at a national level, a conference level is a good feeling.
“Beating Dwight Stones was good. The first thing you think about is how cocky he was. We jumped a number of times and I won about three of them. You have to be a little cocky. After you win a good meet, it's the greatest feeling of all.”
The worst, of course, is losing your mate to sudden illness, which happened to Causey in his first marriage.
He remarried, and he and Debbie have daughter Rachel along with Andrew and Aimee from his first marriage.
“God puts things in our life that make us better, stronger,” he said. “You can't always see it at the time. My dad preached about being positive. The world can be a negative place.”
Sometimes, though, you can still soar through the strife.
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Jack in 1969
Click here for that photo gallery.
Click here for the 1970 Track & Field photo gallery.
Click here for Jack's Athletic Network Profile.
Click here for the 2012 Ragin' Cajuns Lettermen's Club Hall of Fame Induction Photo Gallery, including Induction Ceremony, Homecoming Parade, Autograph Party, and on-the-field presentations.
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Click here for a story on Henry and Billie Duhon Hebert which Jack brought to fruition as part of our "Special Fans" page in the History of UL Athletics page. Scroll down on this page for a photo of Jack, Henry, and Eddie - taken on February 21, 2018, the day of the final interview at the Henry Hebert home. Several months later, Billie passed away.
Click here for the obituary of Billie Duhon Hebert, who passed away July 18, 2018.
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Click here for the chronological listings of the Spotlight on Former Athletes.
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