Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Need for Speed: CNS instructor enjoys high gear sports

By Sarah-Jane Sanders
TSTC Coordinator of Publications

For Computer Networking & Systems Administration Master Instructor Jimmy Summers, risk taking is no light matter. But through years of practice and proficiency, he has found the rewards of extreme activities exceed the risks as much as the ocean exceeds a kiddie pool.

"I’ve done some things few other people will do," Summers said. "I’ve experienced free-falling from up to 14,500 feet and have seen some of the most beautiful sunsets from in the clouds. I’ve played hockey with people from the NHL (National Hockey League) and with personnel from teams like the Dallas Stars. And in motorcycle racing, I’ve ridden with some of the best people in the world."

But, Summers would be the first to tell you he didn’t start out in the big leagues.

On the road
He bought his first motorcycle right after graduating from college and had no intentions of racing.

"At the time, I thought racing was for guys with sub-high school educations with nothing better to do than run circles around a racetrack."

However, after attending a few races and making friends with some big name racing families, he cautiously took up the sport.

"I didn’t want to be one of those (motorcycle death) statistics, so I bought one of the leather suits that the racers wear with the boots, helmet and gloves."

Summers rode in the racing circuits for four years until an accident at an association Grand Nationals race caused significant damage to his motorcycle and left him with minor injuries.

Despite this, his skills and abilities later qualified him as a Rider Coach candidate for the internationally known California Superbike School.

Recently, he has taken up teaching racing techniques with the RideSmart motorcycle school based in Austin. He also continues to hone his racing skills, and often rides his bike to work.

In the sky
Skydiving is another of the various daredevil sports Summers enjoys. He began jumping while he was a student studying at A&M University and joined A&M’s skydiving club soon after seeing a campus demonstration.

Summers’ first jump story, however, sounds like a recipe for disaster. His parachute ripcord caught on the plane, causing it to deploy prematurely. Then, he opened a reserve chute, but found the navigation toggles had not been fastened correctly which prevented him from steering. After missing several dangerous obstacles, including a major highway, a construction site and power lines, Summers touched down about 1,000 yards from the target landing area.

Throwing caution quite literally to the wind, Summers made a second jump the next weekend, and now has approximately 190 safe landings under his belt, as well as several levels of jump licenses and awards.

I made a second jump to see what the first jump should have been like," he said, "and I’ve been hooked ever since."

Though his skydiving habits began on a whim, Summers said he happened into ice hockey because of a girl.

Around the rink
To impress a woman he was dating, Summers planned a special date that would end with a bit of romantic ice skating. In preparation for the date, he took skating lessons at a rink in Dallas.

During first lesson, he ran into an old skydiving buddy who encouraged him to try out hockey. Later, when things fell through with his girlfriend before the skating date could be arranged, he stayed with the skating lessons and took up the popular ice sport.

At the time, Summers lived and worked in Waco, but made a 100-mile drive to the nearest ice rink in Dallas to continue his skating classes and hockey games. When a position for a youth and children’s hockey program coordinator and team coaching assistant with the now disbanded Waco Wizards opened, Summers jumped on the opportunity to practice and teach hockey in town.

He worked with area youth and children, instructing them in basic hockey techniques so they could show off their skills between periods of Wizards hockey games. From there, Summers took a job coaching the fledgling Baylor hockey club, and later went on to guide the Texas A&M hockey club to its all-time best season.

Currently, he is coaching less, but finds time to play hockey at least once a week for a men’s recreation league in College Station.

Pushing his limits
Despite his long history of daredevil sports, Summers has kept his injuries to a minimum. A few broken fingers and ribs, a broken collarbone and some bumps and bruises are the most damage he has sustained.

Some might call him lucky, but Summers say it is his caution and practice with the sports he enjoys that has kept him free from major accidents.

"There’s a level of expertise required to do these activities well, and a mind set you have to have to do them right. If you learn it, then it becomes very challenging and satisfying," he said.

Throughout his career of extreme activities, Summers said he has been driven by more than just risk taking.

"There is something else to it," he said. "It’s not just the thrill. It’s not just being a daredevil. It’s deeper … It pushes my limits, it pushes my knowledge, increases my faith in God and my appreciation for this earth and what he’s given me. He’s given me the ability to do all this."

So, what’s next for Summers? He said scuba diving and piloting are things he’d like to consider as he pursues his next adventure.


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Michael said...

Great article Sarah, never knew some of those things about Mr. Summers

Sarah-Jane said...

@michael He's an interesting guy who has done a lot in his lifetime.

Morgan Gilmer said...

Hello Sarah-Jane, Not really sure how I wound up here leaving you a message, but anyway I found were you posted the Solar Gel experiment I did on your site, Great Pictures, I've made some progress since then and You might get to write that artical next semester for the gel after all. Seems like I may have solved my problems, but I still have to do a verification experiment next semester. So We will have to see if I solved my problem or not! (We know it works, just have to do it so there is no question that it does!)