Jake Rainey gives up 2012 track season to help mom

Chad Greene/Special to the News Sentinel
Jake Rainey, right, is shown Friday with his mother Marie Rainey at the University of Tennessee's LaPorte Stadium. Jake, a distance runner for the University of Tennessee, gave up his 2012 track season to be available for his mother as she recovered from a car accident.

Photo by Chad Greene, 2012

Chad Greene/Special to the News Sentinel Jake Rainey, right, is shown Friday with his mother Marie Rainey at the University of Tennessee's LaPorte Stadium. Jake, a distance runner for the University of Tennessee, gave up his 2012 track season to be available for his mother as she recovered from a car accident.

Marie Rainey speaks with a mother's pride about her son's capacity for compassion.

"It's way above the normal mark,'' she said. "That's just who he is."

Jake Rainey, the younger of Marie's two sons, also is a sophomore at the University of Tennessee. He runs cross country and track. Last fall, the former all-state standout from Rossview High in Clarksville followed up his SEC all-freshman cross country debut by becoming the Vols' No. 2 runner in the season's final two meets. His track career was tracing a similar arch. UT honored him last year as its freshman of the year after the outdoor season.

Jake had a running start on what he describes as his "dream" until Marie was involved in a car accident last November. Jake assessed the fallout and determined that it would be better if he sat out track season and assisted his mother with her recovery.

The gesture reaffirmed Marie's belief in her son's character. The memory surely would rank right up there with Jake volunteering to help handicapped students during his middle school lunch break.

In this case, though, Marie couldn't help but be wary. That's just who she is.

"She basically said to me that she doesn't want me to be able to say: 'You held me back,' " Jake said.

Jake's selflessness prevailed over Marie's concerns — but only after input from J.J Clark, Tennessee's director of track and field, and the reassurance that Jake's dream wouldn't be derailed, just sidetracked for a semester.

"As a mom, you don't want to ever say (to your child), you can't do something because I need your help,'' Marie said.

After the accident, she initially said next to nothing. Jake didn't know the full details until returning home for winter break. Marie was concerned that he might be stressed out during final exams.

Marie was inclined to be self-suffi

cient. She's divorced and raised Jake and his older brother, Zeek, as a single mom, working as a middle school science teacher.

"She is probably the most independent, strongest person that I know," Jake said. "With two sons growing up, she wouldn't ask for help. She would try to lift something heavy on her own first before she'd try to get us to help her. She doesn't want to be limited by anything."

The accident — the car Marie was driving was rear-ended while she was at a stop sign — imposed serious limitations. For now, her heavy lifting is limited to 8 pounds. She's undergone multiple surgeries as well as therapy for her back and neck. The concussive aftereffects have been particularly vexing and protracted. She didn't return to work at Rossview Middle School until last month.

While staying in school, Jake has traveled back to Clarksville on most weekends. He's missed a few school assignments in order to be there for her surgeries. Marie said that she was "going nuts" over whether Jake would be home during spring break.

Both mother and son conceded to the strain caused by the situation. For example, Jake has always been able to talk to his mother. His friends have marveled at his revelations to her. To him, it felt like he was talking to them. While the familiarity didn't change, the regularity of their conversations was impacted by the prevailing circumstances.

"Normally, I'd call my mom just about every night,'' he said, "and now, I guess, maybe to get away from the stress of it all, I would only be calling her weekly."

Marie, 53, has sensed a shift in their relationship but doesn't see a fault line spreading between them.

"I know Jake and I will get through this,'' she said. "It's frustrating; it's stressful. But I know he loves me. It's all going to be fine."

Jake is chalking up the experience as a dose of reality. Marie always had been there for him, including countless hours during high school, driving him to national meets. Seemed appropriate that he reciprocate.

The more he thinks about it, the less likely he is to take a Mother's Day for granted. His next competition holds greater significance, too.

"It's not only made me appreciate my relationship with her and her health but it makes you appreciate the things you are doing here at the university,'' Jake said.

"In the season, you focus in on the race. You don't see the big picture."

Jake sees many things more clearly now. That's who he has become.

Dan Fleser may be reached by at 865-342-6288. Follow him at http://twitter.com/fleserKNS and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/fleser/

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Comments » 12

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say this bring a tear to ole Witch Doctors eye...wait never mind Witch Doctor wife pooted! hahaha
Bones never lie.
*great story really!

miatatom writes:

Ms. Rainey, you have a special son. You are a lucky lady.

Southland writes:

good boy

Wayfarer writes:

Those are the qualities we should hope every Vol and Lady Vol has. Family above all else. I hope Ms. Rainey is able to make a complete recovery and I wish for Jake a great fall cross country season next fall. Well done, Jake!

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Great story. And, I agree with all you guys just said.

RashaadSalabeb writes:

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Take care of your Mom. You'll always be glad you did. There's still a life full of great things out there in the big world for you to enjoy and achieve.

Go Vols!

mytrifecta writes:

Great story. Amazing character this kid showed. I wish him and his mom the best as she continues to recover and he resumes his running career.

givehim6 writes:

Good story to put on govols for Mothers Day, Jake Rainey sounds like a good kid. Nice he is honoring his Mom in her time of need. My Mom was a very special lady was always there for me, hate to say I was not the best son to her many times, lost her in 2000 to brain aneurism wish now I could tell her how sorry I am. To thoes that still have Mom in there life today is a good day to tell her I Love you.

TheVolMan writes:

Kudos to Dan Fleser for a wonderful story about a fantastic UT student athlete. Just curious, too often I read slams against our President in story comments and message boards. Sadly, IF Jake supported President Obama, some "fans" would rip him in a similar way to the attacks on Heath Shuler. Before you flame this comment, first consider how much your rage and group-think blind you. We are all Americans who support the Vols. Even with that fact, the unbridled hatred toward President Obama and his supporters is alarming.

Happy Mother's Day

rollonbeagles writes:

in response to TheVolMan:

Kudos to Dan Fleser for a wonderful story about a fantastic UT student athlete. Just curious, too often I read slams against our President in story comments and message boards. Sadly, IF Jake supported President Obama, some "fans" would rip him in a similar way to the attacks on Heath Shuler. Before you flame this comment, first consider how much your rage and group-think blind you. We are all Americans who support the Vols. Even with that fact, the unbridled hatred toward President Obama and his supporters is alarming.

Happy Mother's Day

Why would anyone come up with something political after a heart-warming story of a good U.T. kid doing something right? And just for the record, I don't know of anyone who hates the President but many people (including me) hate his polices and his future policies. You Sir, had better begin to open your eyes and read and really observe what this man is doing to our country because we are rapidily becoming someone else.

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to rollonbeagles:

Why would anyone come up with something political after a heart-warming story of a good U.T. kid doing something right? And just for the record, I don't know of anyone who hates the President but many people (including me) hate his polices and his future policies. You Sir, had better begin to open your eyes and read and really observe what this man is doing to our country because we are rapidily becoming someone else.

rollonbeagles, Thank you. I could not have said it better. Today's youth need to wake up and see what really is going on .
On topic. Good for this young man. His priorities are in order.Good luck to both Mom and Son.

voloffaith writes:

in response to amyinsparta:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yeah I did that with a guy on death row years ago and......sorry Amy man has a sin nature and his bent is towards evil....Thank God for Jesus who came to give man a way ro be reconciled. I agree we need more of these stories reflecting on student/athletes making better choices than some of their classmates. " What we think IS".......I can think I'm 6' 7" and 300 lbs ,but that doesn't make me IS.... I can think I can stop a tornado from hitting my house,but that doesn't make me IS.....Yes I like to think the best about people like Jake Rainey and others...just reality of God's word tells me that without a true change of heart that in the end it IS all for naught in God's grand plan...FTR I can't ignore a father abusing his child....a criminal taking someones life in a robbery...negative? No reality....Sadly that type of news reporting creates viewership as we all like stimulating things....just some need to be put on a back page like politicians not getting along.....Faith,Family, and Friends are what count in the long run(no pun) over sports,work,hobbies,etc.....

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