Jordyn Bennett is a student at Slippery Rock University who is the current assistant sports editor for The Rocket, on the Board of Directors of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, an FYTS Peer Mentor and double majoring in Journalism and Philosophy. Originally coming here as a football student, Bennett went through an unfortunate series of difficulties that ultimately led up to his departure from the football team.
Despite his many setbacks, Bennett persevered through his hardships; he learned from them, got over his doubts and turned his lemons into lemonade. Coming from Chester, Pa. to further his education here at Slippery Rock University was a decision he wasn’t ready to commit to because of its difference from the city life.
“Life in general was different,” Bennett said about being from the eastern side of the state. “I’m from Chester, Pa., which is one of the worst cities in the state, but I was fortunately blessed with a mom who was able to get me away from the city and in more positive environments despite being a single parent.”
By the time his sister was born and he was in high school, Bennett and his family moved out of the city and he attended Garnet Valley High School, where he was well-known as a football player by his junior year. Bennett’s best friend, who he said is like his brother, came to live with his family during his senior year.
“Our house got pretty crazy after that,” Bennett said. “I was a well-known football player, and he was one of the top track athletes in the country. We just were the house that should’ve never been as successful as we were, but my mom never let us do anything inside or outside of the classroom that wasn’t great.”
Bennett said that, if it wasn’t for football, he never would have come to SRU.
“I hate the cold,” Bennett said. “Absolutely hate it, and I’m a city kid. I love loud noises and bright lights, so this is the opposite for me. But my life at home wasn’t in our best years and I felt this was the best place for me to help my family out at the time.”
Bennett’s primary reason for attending SRU, was playing football, but during practice one day, he broke his forearm cut blocking another player. He said the shock went through his arm to his wrist, breaking part of his wrist as well, and he had a pin put into his wrist and a metal plate into his arm; Bennett still has the plate.
“While my arm was the last thing that set me over the top from leaving football, it wasn’t the main reason,” Bennett said. “I was battling mental issues and a lot of other things going on in my life where I just wasn’t happy to find me.”
Bennett said he left the team without saying anything to anyone besides Coach Mihalik, and that he didn’t know what he was going to do; he said, in that time, he felt lower than he’d ever felt, his grades were slacking and he wasn’t making good decisions. Bennett said he didn’t want to be at school or anywhere in general, and he debated transferring or dropping out.
“It was probably the scariest time of my life,” Bennett said. “I debated a lot of bad, scary things that would’ve made my story a lot different.”
Bennett credits a few select people for helping him become who he is now. He said Ms. Corrine Gibson talked him through his academics to get him back on course as a student, and Lorraine Craven helped him through his personal issues and pointed him in the right direction to get the help he needed. Bennett mentioned Dr. Mark Zeltner, adviser to The Rocket and professor of Bennett’s junior year sports journalism class, who helped him as well.
“Dr. Zeltner really pushed me to make the moves I’ve made in my career as a journalist,” Bennett said. “He told the [sports journalism] class how to get involved with The Rocket and I went for it and have been making moves to be a better journalist ever since.”
As assistant sports editor, Bennett covered many of the football games for The Rocket, which, he said, helped him see football in a different light. He said he’s glad that he’s done covering it because now he can go back to being a fan and supporting the team.
“I’m kind of happy I can just support this year because this season would have been my last,” Bennett said. “The guys I redshirted with and spent the most time with are going to be in their last season, so it’s like the last bit of me that I left out there is in them.”
One of the biggest things that kept Bennett at SRU was his desire to make a difference. As a black student, an ex-athlete, a member of a Greek organization and someone who had a troubling past at SRU, he felt as if there were many people he could help. Bennett became pole march of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., a FYTS mentor, helped to start the organization KINGS Org. and started working at George Junior Republic, where he got to help coach the high school basketball team this year.
“I don’t always have the care to worry about what happens to me, but I definitely found my care for the betterment of everyone else and how much I could potentially impact someone,” Bennett said.
Bennett hopes to throw himself into his profession by working for a television station or writing for a newspaper, or pursue graduate school in California in order to put himself in a bigger media market. Outside of his career, he also wants to continue to inspire people to make better decisions and to be themselves.
“If I do nothing else for the rest of my life, I want to make sure that I inspire someone to be better than me,” Bennett said.